Monday, November 29, 2010

Marcellus News for Pennsylvania, Nov 29

94-year-old Bernice Price of Montrose, PA leased her property to drillers for a song, but her grandchildren who shared ownership knew nothing about the deal with Chesapeake, who never got their consent.

The American Law Daily discusses the legal ramification of drilling. leases, environmental impacts and opposition.

The influx of out-of state drill workers is increasing the ranks of hunters in Pennsylvania. Wait a minute, I thought those jobs would be created for Pennsylvanians...silly me.

The Brockway Borough Municipal Authority in Jefferson Co. has filed suit against Flatirons Development, aiming to stop construction of drilling operations until Flatirons shows that water supplies are protected.

AlterNet alleges that drillers in the Keystone State have been dumping cuttings containing radioactive minerals in New York.

Tom Wolfe on the Media and its "Narrative"

One thing that Jon Stewart at the Daily show has been very successful at is skewering the news media for its adherence to a fixed narrative for covering current events.It is nothing new really, as Tom Wolfe wrote in The Right Stuff about the press coverage of the Mercury Seven in the late 50's early 60's:

"It was as if the press in America, for all its vaunted independence, were a great colonial animal, an animal made up of countless clustered organisms responding to a central nervous system. In the late 1950's (as in the late 1970's) the animal seemed determined that in all matters of national importance the proper emotion, the seemly sentiment, the fitting moral tone, should be established and should prevail; and all information that muddied the tone and weakened the feeling should simply be thrown down the memory hole. In a later period this impulse of the animal would take the form of blazing indignation about corruption, abuses of power, and even minor ethical lapses, among public officials; here, in April of 1959, it took the form of a blazing patriotic passion for the seven test pilots who had volunteered to go into space. In either case, the animal's fundamental concern remained the same: the public, the populace, the citizenry, must be provided with the correct feelings! One might regard this animal as the consummate hypocritical Victorian gent. Sentiments that one scarcely gives a second thought to in one's private life are nevertheless insisted upon in all public utterances. (And this grave gent lives on in excellent health.)"

The problem today is that cable news in particular has been taken over by ideological hacks bent on take the narrative concept to an extreme not seen since the 19th century partisan newspapers and never so widely disseminated.

However, there are ordinary rational citizens trying to push back in a true grass-roots fashion. It first began on, of all places, the Daily Show message boards and now has its own site, check it out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wild Weather and Warming Climate

Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.  Lately there has been some more "extreme: weather in North America, extreme because it is not what we expect based on long-term averages. There is a strong differential in temperatures in the continental US, with record warmth in the southeast and cold and snow in the central west and Pacific NW.
From the Weather Channel, Tuesday Nov. 2
Along with advancing cold air there were severe thunderstorms and rare November tornadoes in Illinois. The wild weather year continues.

That's the weather, but what to expect? The world continues to warm. NASA scientists using satellite data for 104 large inland lakes found that on average they have warmed two-and-a-half times the increase in atmospheric temps in the same time period. This past summer's Arctic sea ice melt was not as much as in 2007, but it was still well below the baseline. Amazingly, it is lagging in reforming and the ice extent is below 2007 for this time of the year:
Arctic sea ice extent as 11/21, from the National Snow and Ice Data Center,(click for larger image).
Not surprisingly, a record level of greenhouse gases was reached in 2009, and the threat of methane release from bogs and permafrost made the mainstream news with a report this week of methane bubbling up from Siberian lakes.

We label the weather patterns this year as "extreme" or "wild" or simply unusual because they are outside the expected climactic norms (this does not require them to be record breaking BTW). Of course if these weather patterns continue, they would soon constitute new norms and a new climate. This is what we could expect with continued global warming, extreme years punctuated with "normal" years (see this older post).

But what about the possibility of abrupt climate change? The next IPCC report could be dramatically worse, and reports of methane release are indeed alarming because methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and would accelerate warming. We just had a very snowy and/or cold winter in 2010, which could be due to warming in the arctic as sea ice loss in the arctic would shift atmospheric circulation.

Unfortunately, we can not answer the question with confidence and probably will not know it until we are several years or more into an abrupt shift. If it is the case, I expect to see denialism ramp up, not be defeated because denial is not just economic driven propaganda, but a human reaction to threatening news.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Peak Coal (?) and Regular Keystone Marcellus Update

Well we're back to regular Monday Marcellus updates, but first there some interesting news surrounding coal supplies. Now when people talk about coal, we generally hear about abundant coal resources and or about the mountaintop removal controversy. But coal-burning is a major producer of electricity and China has been consuming enormous amounts of the black stuff. Now Phys.Org relates ,"A report entitled 'The End of Cheap Coal,' published in the journal Nature by Richard Heinberg and David Fridley, suggests we may reach peak coal in the next two decades." Now 20 years sounds like a long-time, but Peak Oil will create more demand for coal and increased coal usage will add more CO2 to our overloaded atmosphere. And another energy peak coming on the heels of a potential oil crunch doesn't bode well for a BAU global economy. The WSJ adds that China is considering capping domestic coal production due to worries about depleting reserves. The Chinese appetite for coal is so big and supplying them then so profitable, that even countries where coal use is argued about quietly export it to China. Unless fusion becomes a reality soon, we may see our energy intensive civilization hit the wall this decade.

Now onto the latest news from the Marcellus Play in Pennsylvania. This will be short since I did an update just a few days ago.

Now we hear a lot of numbers tossed around for the number of jobs that are supposed to be created, usually with no additional details. For a change, the Lebanon Daily News reports a more modest number and attributes the potential jobs to a specific company: Calfrac Well Services Corp of Calgary plans to "hire more than 200 people for a new complex being built in southwestern Pennsylvania to serve Marcellus Shale wells..." Of course, questions remain regarding what the positions are and whether those being hired will be experienced industry workers from elsewhere. 

Energy and environmental insurers see a potential boom in their business from Marcellus development. 

Another driller is selling its Marcellus assets - EOG Resources reached a $405 million deal to sell 50,000 acres to Newfield Exploration Co.,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Surreal and strange Sunday, Nov 21

Who cares about Peak Oil, income disparity and climate change, we have Bridaplasty!

But wait, we may face PEAK CHOCOLATE.

Beware of naked baby photos - especially if you're an illegal immigrant!

Yes, terrorists would attack by running in camo through the Lincoln Tunnel. Are we shocked that Florida is somehow involved with this stupidity? Or maybe you can spot a terrorist bomb cuz they would let ya know by puttin' that thar strange non Mericun writin' on it.

It's so good to see that some college students still use the library.

So women in Boise are really dumb?

If you're gonna dine and dash, why not skip Denny's and go for the best?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Marcellus News for Pennsylvania, Nov 20

Running behind this week, so just a quick round-up:

Encana Oil and Gas is ending operations in two NE Pennsylvania counties (Luzerne and Columbia) after determining that determining that further development is not viable.

Williams Partners LP will be buying Cabot Oil & Gas' Marcellus assets for $150.

Chevron will buy Atlas for $3.2 billion, which means the big boys are getting into the Marcellus, or so it appears at the moment.

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission has approved new safety regulations for gas drilling in Pennsylvania, which means nada if Governor-elect Corbett decides not to enforce them.

If Pittsburgh has its way, nobody will drilling within the city limits.

If you want to buy a home closer than 300 feet from an active or planned drilling site, you won't be able to get a FHA backed mortgage to do it.  Which likely means that vets won't be able to get a VA loan either.

Halliburton is providing a description of fracking chemicals in use, but says the disclosure is not in reponse to an EPA supoena.

A Tribune-Democrat: Editorial: Marcellus Shale-A boom at what cost? The election is over, but the issues remain.

Monday, November 15, 2010

That didn't take long...

The media loves to build something up and then tear it down, as the Tea Partiers are finding out. A poll that out today shows that most Americans don't share the narrative that discontent and anger is all about the deficit, 56$ worry most about jobs and the economy. That story disappeared pretty quickly, gotta keep the narrative going a bit longer, but eventually they'll find that they're no longer the media darlings.

It also seems the TPs are the jealous type, or more accurately the psycho-bitch Fatal Attraction type.  Seems they're a tad bit upset that the Claremont Institute had an orientation for freshman GOoPers at the same time the TP Patriots were having one, and according to the Hill they decided to harass and threaten their new found love for daring to even look at another interest group. I believe this is what is called narcissistic rage.

Ahh, but they all are firmly united on their goal of balancing the budget by slashing spending across the board, with no exceptions...except this and this and this...

Of course, Matt Taibbi already showed that they're full of shit so none of that should surprise us.

BTW, there's now an interactive tool that you can use to engineer a reduction of the deficit!

Friday, November 12, 2010

IEA admits Peak Oil, say we already passed it.

The International Energy Agency notes in its 2010 World Energy Outlook that crude oil production peaked in 2006, as shown in slide 8 from their press release:

click for large image

Interestingly, Kenneth Deffeyes and Matthew Simmons both stated that PO arrived in December 2005. In another interesting find, Nafeez Ahmed relates that Dr. Colin J. Campbell, formerly of BP, has written that oil production peaked between 2005 and 2008. One notes when looking at the above graph that the IEA makes a big assumption, i.e. overall crude oil production will remain constant due to fields yet to be developed or yet to be found! In fact, if you look at the same graph in the report itself, you'll find that if you add in just "fields to be developed" conventional crude still declines, the only thing that keeps it constant is an increasing amount of oil fields "yet to be found"!

Considering that oil field discoveries themselves peaked  45 years ago, that second assumption is pretty amazing and fanciful. You'll also note that they still have oil production overall rising, due to an assumed increase in unconventional oil production and constant natural gas liquid supply. In short, the IEA admits Peak Oil exists and has already hit, but then say don't worry, things will work out - somehow. The Oil Drum does a good job dissecting the report and calling BS on their assumptions.  Make sure to check out the comments on unconventional natural gas, i.e. shale gas.

Coming on the heels of a U.S, DoD report warning about PO and another more publicized report from the German military it seems that Peak Oil may be starting to become mainstream, may being the operative word. Considering the human capacity for denial, we will probably not see widespread acknowledgment until we reach a price crunch. Even then, the left wing and right wing will blame it on Big Oil price gouging and over-regulation respectively.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Marcellus News for Pennsylvania

Been a busy few weeks and the news was flooded with pre-election BS. I hope now to get back to a weekly Monday round-up.

Resource Developments:
-People are now beginning the question the meme that shale gas will be a cornucopia of endless energy, jobs and money. Rigzone discusses the sharp drop-off in production that occurs in fracked wells, but holds out for a technological solution.
Business Insider reprints an article from the Peak Oil site The Oil Drum helpfully titled: Here's Why The Marcellus Shale Discovery Will Be A Disappointment. It makes many of the same points as the first piece, but is much more detailed and pessimistic. Definitely worth a close read. Both stories show that doubts over the gas shale hype exist within the industry.
-But the hype goes on, with Penn State forming all sorts of allegedly lucrative partnerships with industry. And the Penn State Cooperative Extension plans to diversify into gas shale ops..

Environmental Developments:
-The state DEP released a preliminary air-quality survey for a small samples of wells. DEP Secretary John Hanger stated, "This short-term study only provides a snapshot of the air contaminants we found at surveyed sites, but the data shows no emission levels that would constitute a concern to the health of residents living near these operations."  Read the full story on PR Newswire
-The Pennsylvania Environmental Council has named Paul M. King president and chief executive officer.
Political Developments (Party like its 1886):
-Over at WSJ, there was crowing that a "Red" Pennsylvania will kill off renewable energy and that Governor-elect Corbett will lift that silly Rendell moratorium on drilling in State Forests. That's a reasonable report compared to this nonsense, but at least they admit its all about gorging on finite resources for profit now and damn the future consequences.
-Inside the meeting, Karl Rove acknowledged that the new governor, state legislature and House of Reps will make life easier for drillers by removing many of them there pesky regulations. Folks, remember the Canned Ham when the energy and climate crises hit with full force.
-Peregrine Keystone Gas Pipeline is seeking public utility status that will allow them to take private land by eminent domain to run their pipelines.

Business developments:
-Canadian based Talisman will be reducing its Marcellus production due to low gas prices and focus on the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, which produces more profitable condensates such as propane and butane.
-However, low gas prices won't stop National Fuel from drilling more wells in the Marcellus Play
-National Fuel reports it 2010 earnings, up $8.7 million for the fiscal year.
-Stone Energy also reported its 3rd quarter earnings, For January through September 30, 2010, Stone reported net income of $76.0 million, compared to a net loss of $147.6 million for the comparable 2009 period.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I'm sorry to tell you this, but our economy has cancer.

A modern, technologically advanced economy is like a human body. It has many different organs that each perform a task necessary for the whole organism to survive. None can survive without a whole and healthy organism, and this requires a delicate management of the system. The problem for the greedy is that in a properly managed  healthy economy (one that benefits all) the opportunities to become very wealthy can be somewhat limited, as innovation and the success of new products are always uncertain. It isalso difficult to rapidly gain excessive wealth, particularly through non-productive activities of the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) sectors when the economy is working well for all sectors.

In a living body, some diseases occur when some organs fail and others when organs operate improperly. This happens in our body economic as well. We also know that sometimes certain cells go into a malignant mode, reproduce rapidly, perform no useful whole body function, consume bodily resources, overrun their organs and spread; in other words cancer.

In 2010 America we no longer produce much of what we use. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our health services are still too expensive and out of reach, emergency response is being cut, acquisition and spread of knowledge is a joke, the flow of money to much of the economy is diminished. The FIRE sector no longer serves a productive capitalist market economy, but exists for its own sake. Since the time of Reagan, we have led an lazy, unhealthy lifestyle (sending our productive jobs overseas), concentrated fat in a few places (income disparity), and consumed a monotonous diet of an economic carcinogen (cheap oil).

A malignancy began in FIRE, aided by a hyperactive marketing organ. We embarked on a runaway-feedback loop as rapid suburban and exurban development generated mortgage and other finance activities and associated insurance activity. To continue the beast required further real estate development and the cycle began to feed on itself.  People involved in FIRE moved to the new exploding exurbs and those who in the past would have worked producing goods wound up serving the exurbs as contractors, retail clerks, and landscapers. Thes people needed to live in exurbia, but instead of wages FIRE produced a sweet diet of credit. Exurbia required huge amounts of transportation to grow and survive, which required increasing amounts and dependence on oil. Exurbs took over local farms, requiring us to move food across state, across country, across the seas, consuming more oil. The FIRE metastasized in the government and media and academia. Those organs began to mimic FIRE, producing less while increasing useless administration. The body failed to notice because it was being drenched in the marketing hormone.

We were diagnosed in 2008. Many have balked at the mild (too weak in turns out) treatments prescribed, favoring the tax cut, tax cut and tax cut woo pushed by Tea Party quacks. The marketing hormone and oil addiction are too strong for many. But the cancer is still there, and it will continue to feed.