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Monday Message Board (on Tuesday)

June 10th, 2008

It’s time for the Monday Message Board, a day late due to the “Queens Birthday” public holiday. Please post your thoughts on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please. Suggested starter – a new public holiday to replace this anachronism?

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  1. Ian Gould
    June 10th, 2008 at 09:01 | #1

    So whatever happened to the subprime crisis?

    A couple of months back it was the economic doomsday theory de jour.

    Now it seems largely to have been repalced by oil prices. (Arguably of course the soaring US Dollar oil price is paretially attributable to the falling US dollar caused in large part by … the subprime crisis.)

    Lehmann Brothers announced a US$2.2 billion quarterly loss yesterday and had to raise $6 billion in new capital.

    That’s getting lots of attention in the financial markets but not much coverage in the general media.

  2. observa
    June 10th, 2008 at 09:26 | #2

    Plod on oh sad and lonely knight, for no doubt there will be plenty of the king’s lollypop windmills to tilt at to brighten the journey. Perhaps one day your tarnished armour will be welcome at that resplendent table in Camelot. Hmmm…perhaps!

    Meanwhile in Camelot, King Rudd surveys the NRMA’s table of the total after tax resources required per year by his subjects to travel an average of 15000 km/yr. The serfs’ cheapest weekly lot of $120/week for a Hyundai Getz, to the mason’s wife, MrsO’s Mitsubishi Colt at $140/week, the king and courtiers’ Priuses at $200/week and some of his profligate nobles’ 4WDs at three times their serfs. The king’s quill hovers above the list to the awe of assembled courtiers and then descends regally and decisively to gasps and nods of approval. Prius owners and Toyota shareholders it shall be-
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23837509-29277,00.html
    and be quick about it from the royal coffers to more burning of the midnight oil(and musical strains as well)
    Naturally the obedient Chancellor of the Exchequer hops to it and in the corridors announces that certain other priorities will need to be put on the backburner of course-
    http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,23636,23839730-31037,00.html

  3. jquiggin
    June 10th, 2008 at 09:32 | #3

    IG, there’s also the official end of the mortgage insurance business of Ambac and MBIA, thanks to the loss of their AAA ratings. But as you say, only in the financial pages.

  4. June 10th, 2008 at 10:00 | #4

    The withdrawal of Australian “combat” troops from Iraq has been greeted with a collective yawn by the blogosphere. But any readers who followed Prof Q’s recent discussion on War Crimes might also be interested in this post at LP.

  5. observa
    June 10th, 2008 at 10:02 | #5

    “So whatever happened to the subprime crisis?”
    It’s now the Fed’s problem and they’re dealing with it via throwing more funny money at it, presumably in the hope that inflation will work it all out eventually. They must figure long, slow and very painful trumps short, sharp and horrible as a result of their past stupidity I guess.

  6. Alexander McLeay
    June 10th, 2008 at 11:51 | #6

    Not really related to anything, but what does “ RWDB ” actually stand for ? I’ve been reading it in my mind as “ right wind dart board ” for years but I doubt that’s actually it . . .

  7. Andrew
    June 10th, 2008 at 13:06 | #7

    right wing death beast?

  8. observa
    June 10th, 2008 at 14:19 | #8

    Update-
    ‘TOYOTA will begin building a hybrid Camry at its Altona plant in Melbourne within 18 months, the car giant announced today.
    Toyota Australia hoped to make 10,000 of the fuel-efficient cars each year.
    The Federal Government had offered the company a $35 million subsidy from its Green Car Fund.
    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who was at Toyota’s Japanese headquarters in Nagoya for the announcement, said it was an important moment for the Australian car industry.
    “We are delighted Toyota has decided to invest in the Australian car industry and build the hybrid Camry at Altona,” he said.
    The petrol-electric hybrid used a third less petrol than a conventional car and would save the average motorist $1000 a year in fuel costs.
    Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe said Australia had joined Japan and the US as part of Toyota’s hybrid family.
    Mr Watanabe said the hybrid Camry would be more expensive than the regular model but suggested the $35 million subsidy might be used to keep the retail price down.
    “It was only recently that we heard about the amount so we are not sure how we will use it,” he said.
    Hybrid Camrys produced in Japan and the US cost about 14 per cent more than a standard four-cylinder Camry.
    A similar margin in Australia will add $4000 to the price of a basic Camry, edging it up to $32,500.’

    That’s funny, I thought Toyota’s current cheapy version Prius sold in Oz for $37400. Still if Mr Watanabe is not sure how he’ll use that $35mill plus interest, ‘hoping’ to build 10000 hybrids a year, can I suggest he buy some future cap and trade emission permits with it? Don’t worry about the highly efficient 10000 cars per year production run, as I’m sure wall to wall Labor will come to the party by the sounds of things Mr Watanabe.

  9. observa
    June 10th, 2008 at 14:46 | #9

    Here’s a good commercial summary of the quest for plug-in electric vehicles at present http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/25/automobiles/autospecial/25battery.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
    Notice how Toyota get around that current $4500 battery replacement worry.

  10. June 10th, 2008 at 21:02 | #10

    I have been trying to edit the wikipedia page section minimum wage alternatives to reflect Professor Kim Swales’s work in the area. Unfortunately, someone else is objecting on various grounds, covered here in the talk page. Can I invite people here to look over the section and the talk page to see if they can help resolve the issues in a way that gives coverage to what I was trying to put in? Thanks in advance.

  11. Martin
    June 11th, 2008 at 01:33 | #11

    Republic Day, presumably. But this year it coincides with Chinese Dragon Boat Day, though I think that is lunar and hence a movable feast (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duanwu_Festival).

  12. gerard
    June 11th, 2008 at 09:23 | #12

    The Weak-Dollar Threat to World Order

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121296987173655833.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

    …When the U.S. turns a blind eye to the consequences of diluting the value of its monetary unit, when we abuse the privilege of supplying the global reserve currency by resorting to sleight-of-hand monetary policy to address our own economic problems – inflating our way out of the housing crisis, pushing taxpayers into higher brackets through stealth – it sends a disturbing message to the world….

  13. June 11th, 2008 at 11:19 | #13

    Please, people, I really could use some help getting an acceptable mention of Kim Swales‘s relevant work into wikipedia’s minimum wage article (see also the talk pages here and here). The objector has deleted the material completely and simply won’t offer suggestions or clarify his criteria for acceptability.

  14. Steve Bloom
    June 11th, 2008 at 17:24 | #14

    The Queen’s Birthday, hmm? We have that holiday in San Francisco, although it’s about to be overtaken by the Queen’s Wedding Day.

  15. Socrates
    June 11th, 2008 at 18:19 | #15

    IG

    Its funny you mention Lehman Brothers. I was just doing some research on the total sub-prime losses amoung US traders ($11 billion US) and comparing them to the total bonuses they paid in 2006 ($36 billion US). I noticed that Lehmans had posted an unusually small loss in 2007 (compared to the others). But digging deeper they stated that their result didn’t necessarily include the value of derivative deals still held but not yet due! Amazing. If I uderstood it, they simply haven’t declared how much they will owe. No wonder they need $6 billion US.

  16. Ernestine Gross
    June 12th, 2008 at 11:53 | #16

    Interesting statistics, Socrates.

  17. Ernestine Gross
    June 12th, 2008 at 12:05 | #17

    PML, I’ve read the wiki pages you first referenced. I am not sure I can help. As far as I am concerned, you argued your point but faced the problem I call ‘trying to get a handfull of water out of a bucket’. I got lost in the exchanges in the sense that I am not clear whether the wiki-person would have accepted your post if you had stated the reference you mentioned instead of foreshadowing the reference.

    There is one point though, I’d like to raise. The ‘no-minimum-wage’ micro-economic camp works off the ‘marginal productivity theory’. I would prefer if the results would be stated so that the conditions can be examined. The wiki article merely makes a reference to ‘competitive market’. IMO, this is not enough – under which conditions does such a market exist – at least in the logic of mathematics with explictly stated conditions? As I have mentioned on several ocasions on this blog-site, one of the conditions is the ‘minimum wealth constraint’. The marginal productivity theory is silent on this point. The age of this theoretical material should also be mentioned. Considering these shortcomings, I find the rejection of your post very strange. It is as if the idea of there being more than one possible solution to a problem is not allowed.

  18. June 12th, 2008 at 12:40 | #18

    Some of the discussion about editing the minimum wage alternatives to reflect Kim Swales‘s work is at the objector’s talk page too.

  19. Socrates
    June 12th, 2008 at 16:38 | #19

    Ernestine

    I should clarify that the figures I quoted (2006 bonuses paid and 2007 losses) were only for the “big five” traders: Goldman Sachs, Merril Lynch, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Morgan Stanley. Total losses from sub-prime trading are much larger because they include losses by other traders (eg Citybank) and because the losses announced by these five were net after profits in other areas. Also, they were only declared losses. It is now clear that Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers had larger losses than they declared. Even so, I think you can see the point I made: these companies paid huge amounts in bonuses, in the vicinity of 40% of total profits, only a year before booking huge losses from the same high risk practices they used to justify the bonuses. I’m not a lawyer, but to me that runs awefully close to breaching their fiduciary duty to shareholders.

  20. June 12th, 2008 at 18:37 | #20

    I’m struggling to understand how the surge in the terms of trade (and national income) benefits the average Australian? Seems to me most of the benefit goes to the mining sector and related industries and doesn’t get spread around much. Sure the government is rolling in tax receipts from the mining companies, but apart from Costello’s tax cuts the government is keeping the money to itself and/or squirreling it away in sovereign wealth funds.

    I know for a fact I am not benefitting in any way, shape, or form from the “huge boost in national income” that we keep hearing about, and I don’t appreciate being thumped with endless rate rises because the economy is doing so well.

    Are any of you Quigginites rolling in dough because of the resources boom?

  21. June 12th, 2008 at 19:21 | #21

    Carbonsink, I think gains don’t come to Australia because two factors are missing. We can compare and contrast Britain’s gains from coal in the 19th century with the lack of a similar gain for Iran from oil in the 1950s. I somewhere came across a mention of a contemporary analysis by an Iranian, using Leontiev matrices, that showed that Iranian oilfields were effectively an outpost of the British economy, effectively not connected to the Iranian economy at all. On the other hand, as someone once remarked, “the only cheap thing you can do with coal is burn it”, which includes a difficulty transporting it before an industrial infrastructure had developed. So it made most sense to use coal for any value adding near the mines, unlike oil. Add to that the network externalities that sprang up in places like Birmingham, and you got an engine of growth. Australia is missing out on local use of the minerals boom and on any network externalities from that, because it is now cheap enough to transport the materials to places with other advantages.

  22. Ian Gould
    June 12th, 2008 at 20:55 | #22

    “I know for a fact I am not benefitting in any way, shape, or form from the “huge boost in national incomeâ€? that we keep hearing about, and I don’t appreciate being thumped with endless rate rises because the economy is doing so well.”

    So you won’t be getting a tax cut in just over two week’s time?

    Personally, I import goods from the US and we’re doing great – after cutting our prices by around 25% over the pat years which I suspect my customers are pretty happy about to.

    On a related note -the housing co-op where I live charges residents $40 per week fr food and that hasn’t increased in about two years. I do food shopping on a regular basis and haven’t noticed anything like the huge price increases I keep hearing abut.

  23. Ian Gould
    June 12th, 2008 at 22:08 | #23

    I’m trying not to come off like a blind defender of the Rudd government but the hysteria over the solar power rebate scheme continues to irritate me.

    Let’s leave aside such points as the fact that funding for the solar panel rebate has actually been doubled in the current budget.

    Let’s look instead at the other initiatives in the Budget.

    There’s a total $340 million more being spent on climate change resposne this year than last year.

    That includes:

    $13 million for small and medium business to develop energy efficient products;

    $2 million for energy efficiency labelling

    $40 million for the Energy Innovation Fund:

    “The Government will provide $150.0 million over four years to support the development of clean energy technologies in Australia as part of the Government’s climate change strategy through an Energy Innovation Fund.

    Initiatives to be supported through the Fund include: $50.0 million for the Australian Solar Institute to expand Australia’s solar thermal research capacity and to build on the existing CSIRO centre in Newcastle, $50.0 million for photovoltaic research and development, and $50.0 million for general clean energy research and development, including energy efficiency, energy storage technologies and hydrogen transport fuels.”

    $17 million in low interest green loans

    “The Government will provide $300.0 million over five years (including $46.3 million in 2012‑13) to subsidise the provision of low‑interest loans, of up to $10,000 per home, for the installation of green technologies to improve water and energy efficiency. These include solar hot water, insulation, rainwater tanks and grey water recycling. The loans are intended to be provided by accredited financial institutions, selected by competitive tender, with the interest rate subsidised by the Government. Delivery arrangements will be finalised following consultation with the financial industry.”

    $10.5 million in rebates to landowners to install insulation in rental housing

    $8 million for solar cities

    Those are only a few example – and again these are supplemental amounts on top of what was already being spent.

    So can we now shut up about a program which probably cost less than $24 million in total (since not everyone would have claimed the maximum rebate) and which has not been cancelled or suspended and in fact yet again – has had its funding increased.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/budget/2008-09/content/bp2/html/expense-07.htm

  24. observa
    June 12th, 2008 at 22:41 | #24

    “I’m struggling to understand how the surge in the terms of trade (and national income) benefits the average Australian?”

    Well carbonsink, in the absence of all that mannah from heaven flowing into your Govt’s coffers and bearing in mind our historical tendency to buy more than we sell, we’d all be a whole lot bigger, sorrier Kung Fu Panda fans just like this lot here now-
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/JF10Aa02.html
    but then as you know we were always a few years behind them trend-wise, although you made need to orry that lag has been narrowing over the years.

  25. observa
    June 12th, 2008 at 22:44 | #25

    …may need to worry..

  26. June 12th, 2008 at 23:10 | #26

    So you won’t be getting a tax cut in just over two week’s time?

    Well yes, but because my income is about one fifth what it was a few years ago (thank you surging AUD) it won’t do much for me.

    Personally, I import goods from the US and we’re doing great – after cutting our prices by around 25% over the pat years which I suspect my customers are pretty happy about to.

    I’m an exporter. I export 75% of my product to the U.S. I am forced to price in USD and all my costs are salaries in AUD. I’m laying people off this week. Its not pleasant.

    So while you bring in fully imported product and just flog it, I layoff engineers who developed product in Australia from scratch, product that is technically as good as anything in the world, but can’t be sold profitably anymore because my costs have doubled in USD terms.

    I used to believe in the “clever country”, but the current economic environment rewards laziness and punishes cleverness. This is no reflection on you, you can and should take advantage of the economic opportunities, I’m just a tad p*ssed off at the moment.

  27. Ian Gould
    June 13th, 2008 at 15:25 | #27

    Carbonsink,

    I really do understand what you’re going through – I was in much the same situation back when the Australian dollar bottomed-out at under US 50 cents.

  28. Ian Gould
    June 13th, 2008 at 19:46 | #28

    We’ve discussed the future of aviation here on a a number of occasions.

    This is an interesting link to a company which apparently uses fuel ethanol as a feedstock to produce a much more energy-dense fuel suitable for both aviation fuels and internal combustion.

    The 30% greater energy content actually translates into greater range and the fuel is supposedly cheaper than conventional av-fuel.

    http://www.gizmag.com/designer-fuel-offers-more-mpg-less-emissions-less-cost/9467/

    http://www.swiftenterprises.com/Swift%20Fuel.html

  29. Ernestine Gross
    June 13th, 2008 at 22:01 | #29

    Socrates,

    Thank you for the clarification. While I assumed you were looking at data pertaining to the big players on Wall Street, it is much better to know the sample. The question you raise about fiduciary duty to shareholders has an easy answer if one takes Finance textbooks as a starting point. But it is a very difficult question in general and with respect to financial institutions in particular. Unless you explicitly wish to continue with this for me interesting topic, I’d rather not say another word for I may attract the wrath of SJ and I don’t want to spend time with his way of trying to say something.

  30. June 14th, 2008 at 09:01 | #30

    I really do understand what you’re going through – I was in much the same situation back when the Australian dollar bottomed-out at under US 50 cents.

    Yes, but dare I say it, if you were to go out of business because of a low dollar you could far more easily start back up (when conditions are more favourable) than I could. When I layoff my core engineers I lose my ability to innovate and create new products, and even if I rehire a few years down the track, it will be years later before the new engineers are up to speed. For you (presumably) its just matter of calling your suppliers and distributors when things improve. I’m sure it wouldn’t be easy, but as an exporter that designs and creates product in Australia, I have all your problems plus so much more.

    I would also argue that exporters that innovate, create and develop product in Australia, should be more highly valued than importers. Clearly that is not the case at the moment. The “chosen people” right now are miners and importers.

    I don’t see any easy answers, and I’m not about to argue for protectionism, but its clear to me Australia is in the process of deindustrialising. We are suffering our own version of the Dutch Disease.

  31. June 14th, 2008 at 09:48 | #31

    Ian, SwiftFuel is a replacement for Avgas, the fuel used in piston-engined aircraft. Its not a replacement for jet fuel (kerosene).

    Ethanol has around two-thirds the energy density of petrol, so whatever SwiftFuel is, its not ethanol. I imagine its some kind of synthetic fuel that has considerable fossil fuel and energy inputs. I’m not a chemist, but I could run it past a chemist if you like.

  32. Ian Gould
    June 14th, 2008 at 11:47 | #32

    “Ian, SwiftFuel is a replacement for Avgas, the fuel used in piston-engined aircraft. Its not a replacement for jet fuel (kerosene).”

    If you read the Gizmag article they’re also claiming it’s suitable for jet fuel.

    “Ethanol has around two-thirds the energy density of petrol, so whatever SwiftFuel is, its not ethanol. I imagine its some kind of synthetic fuel that has considerable fossil fuel and energy inputs.”

    Hence my statement that they’re using ethanol as a feedstock.

    They’re being deliberately obscure about the exact composition of the fuel.

    As for the additional energy input, assuming they aren’t working on the basis of two litres of ethanol for every litre of their fuel out put and aren’t using some of the final product as fuel for the process, then yes currently much of the additional energy would likely come from fossil sources.

    This is probably why they only claim a 15% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared to av-gas.

    But the aviation industry is facing two crises – carbon dioxide emissions AND the current lack of any technically feasible replacement for liquid fuels.

    Swift Fuels seem to be the only people who can currently address the second of those.

  33. June 14th, 2008 at 12:04 | #33

    For what it’s worth, biobutanol shows some promise, with only 10% less energy density than petrol, although it doesn’t have an ethanol stage.

  34. Ian Gould
    June 14th, 2008 at 12:05 | #34

    I really hate to suggest we could learn anything from Iran but this may be one example:

    http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8703220982

    “TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran is to scale down production of gasoline-powered vehicles and increase its manufacture of cars with dual-fuel and natural gas engines.

    “Sixty percent of passenger cars produced this year will use natural gas as fuel or will be dual-fuel, and the remaining 40 percent will run on regular gasoline,” read a statement released by the Cabinet of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, press tv reported.

    Dual-fuel vehicles produced in Iran can consume both gasoline and compressed natural gas.

    The decision also requires that 80 percent of vehicles manufactured for public transportation by Iranian automakers and 80 percent of pickup trucks must have dual-fuel engines or be powered by natural gas.”

    Australia may be running low on local petroleum but we’ve got plenty of natural gas.

  35. June 15th, 2008 at 09:35 | #35

    Australia may be running low on local petroleum but we’ve got plenty of natural gas.

    Well, perhaps not…
    Australian Natural Gas – How Much Do We Have And How long Will It Last ?

    Conclusion

    I think its safe to assume that if we start treating natural gas as a silver bullet we will run out in less than 40 years – with gas fired power for new generation being much less intensive in its use of gas than using GTL/CNG for transport.

    If you’d like to disagree with this, please point me to an equally well researched document.

  36. Ian Gould
    June 15th, 2008 at 10:46 | #36

    Well for starters it appears to overlook entirely the emerging coal seam methane industry.

    Secondly, “less than forty years” is likely to be long enough for the technologies we’re all hoping for to mature – electric cars; solar, wind and geothermal power; cellulosic ethanol.

    It’s also long enough for the essentially the entire national car fleet to trun over 3-4 times.

    Meaning that if we start making CNG cars tomorrow, it’ll be around 2020 before their share of the vehicle fleet reaches a peak and we can phase rhem out starting in 2020 well within the 40 year horizon.

    I’m working today, I may have a more in-depth look this evening and comment further.

  37. Ian Gould
    June 15th, 2008 at 10:47 | #37

    “phase rhem out starting in 2020″ should read “in 2030″.

  38. June 15th, 2008 at 11:51 | #38

    Well for starters it appears to overlook entirely the emerging coal seam methane industry.

    Er, did you actually read it?

    3. “Unconventional” gas sources, Coal Seam Methane and Shale Gas

    The real X-factor for gas production in Australia is unconventional gas sources, in particular coal seam methane and gas from shale. As both coal and shale are plentiful (and likely to remain so for some time), these are likely to provide significant quantities of gas.

    No one seems to be attempting to extract gas from shale in Australia at this point in time, so I won’t attempt to quantify how much gas we could possibly obtain from this source (see this post for a discussion of unconventional gas, including from shale, in the US).

    Coal seam methane, on the other hand, is now the focus of a boom in Queensland. As there has been so much activity in the area lately (and reserves numbers are so vague) I’ll make this the subject of a separate post – and re-run the scenarios based on various estimates of CSM potential.

  39. Ian Gould
    June 15th, 2008 at 11:53 | #39

    Admitting you don’t know how much coal seam methane there is and saying you’ll address it later is pretty much “ignoring it completely”.

  40. June 15th, 2008 at 17:29 | #40

    Mate if you know more, please share your wisdom on the thread at TOD.

    As Gav says:

    As there has been so much activity in the area lately (and reserves numbers are so vague) I’ll make this the subject of a separate post – and re-run the scenarios based on various estimates of CSM potential

    All you’ve done so far is assert “we’ve got plenty of natural gas” with nothing to back it up.

  41. Ian Gould
    June 15th, 2008 at 21:28 | #41

    We seem to have wandered into some inverted version of John’s Library of Tlon where I wrote something like “We have enoguh natural gas ot last us for ever so let’s convert every car in Australia to run on it and ignore any other action on global warming.”

    As I’ve already pointed out, it’d take a decade to replace a sizable fraction of the Australian car fleet with CNG vehicles and even allowing for that the entire car fleet including the CNG vehicles will likely be replaced once or twice within Gav’s 40-odd year timeframe.

    CNG cars produce significantly lower Carbon dioxide emissions than equivalent petrol vehciels and with current gas prices, represent a reasonable strategy for Australia to bridge the gap until electrcial vehicles powered by renewables are widely available.

    As fro coal seam methane, people who are in a position to know are sufficiently confident of future supply to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure.

    Back in 2003. ABARE estimated that there were at least 250,000 Petajoules worth of coal seam methane just in Queensland and New South Wales. That was based on studies dating back to 1995 and 1996, given the extensive exploration done since then we can assume current reserves are almost definitely higher.

    http://www.abareconomics.com/publications_html/energy/energy_02/gas.pdf

    The oil drum article says total Australian consumption and exports are currently around 1700 PJ (omitting biogas from waste dumps).

    So at an extremely conservative minimum we probably have at least an additional 15 years of current consumption in coal seam methane.

  42. June 15th, 2008 at 22:28 | #42

    I don’t have a problem with Australia converting a substantial proportion of our vehicle fleet to CNG — its a good medium term option for Australia — but if we do that, as well as export most of our gas as LNG, its quite possible our seemingly vast gas resources may be depleted far faster than the media would have us believe.

    Most media reports on Australia’s gas reserves simply divide reserves by production (the infamous R/P ratio) and conclude we have enough gas to last us 200 years or somesuch. Clearly this is nonsense because production will increase substantially in the near term, and in the long term gas production will peak and decline.

    Do we really want to end up like the UK, that burnt through its North Sea oil and gas bonanza in 40 years, and now finds itself at the mercy of Putin?

    As I understand, it the problem with CSM is not the size of the reserves, its the cost of extraction and the flow rates. Its a bit like the tar sands in Canada. People keep quoting the massive reserve number, but no-one seems to have noticed that even with tens of billions invested the Canadians aren’t expecting to produce any more than 2mbpd of synthetic crude by 2020.

    Ditto for oil shale, methane hydrates, and the other ‘backstop hydrocarbons’ that are bandied about.

    The ABARE paper you linked to says:

    Second, the flow properties of CSM and natural gas differ significantly. Importantly, in the case of CSM, a producer’s ability to ramp up or increase production is almost entirely dependant on geological factors and significant increases in flow rates are more costly than is the case for natural gas.

    I have no doubt CSM is, or soon will be, economically viable, but whether it can be produced at a rate that supplies a vehicle fleet of millions and an LNG export industry is debatable.

    Anyway Gav is away for a week. I’m looking forward to his CSM update.

  43. Ian Gould
    June 15th, 2008 at 22:58 | #43

    We’re in a state of furious agreement.

    CNG may play a useful role in easing the economic pain as we transition to either pure electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids running on biofuels.

    One minor point – a lot has happened in the six years since the ABARE report and many of the problems with coal seam methane have been addressed.

    The industry does have a big environmental impact and we shouldn’t ignore that. One of the major problems is the contaminated water that comes out with the methane and which needs to be disposed of.

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