Nine Reasons Why Globalization Can’t Be Permanent

Since the late 1990s, globalization has seemed to be the great hope for the future. Now this great hope seems to be dimming. Globalization sets up conflict in the area of jobs. Countries around the world compete for development and jobs. If there is not enough cheap-to-produce energy to go around, huge wage disparity is likely to result.

We know from physics and history that economies need to grow, or they collapse. The wage disparity that high-wage countries have been experiencing in recent years is evidence that the world economy is already reaching energy limits. There are no longer enough jobs that pay well to go around. Any drop in energy supply is likely to worsen the job situation.

Most observers miss this problem, because they expect high oil prices to signal energy limits. This time, the signal is low wages for a significant group of workers, rather than high oil prices. This situation is possible in a networked economy, but it is not what most people look for.

Unhappy citizens can be expected to react to the wage disparity problem by electing leaders who favor limits to globalization. This can only play out in terms of reduced globalization.

History and physics suggest that economies without adequate energy supply can be expected to collapse. We have several recent examples of partial collapses, including the Great Depression of the 1930s and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Such collapses, or even more extensive collapses, might occur again if we cannot find energy alternatives that can be quickly scaled up to replace oil and coal in the very near term. These replacements need to be cheap-to-produce, non-polluting, and available in huge quantities.

The story that the economy doesn’t really need a growing supply of very cheap-to-produce energy is simply a myth. Let’s look at some of the pieces of this story.

[1] The world economy needs to grow or it collapses. Once all of the nations of the world are included in the world economy, one obvious source of growth (incorporating nations that are not yet industrialized into the world economy) disappears. 

The reason why the world economy needs to grow is because the economy is a self-organized system that operates under the laws of physics. In many ways it is like a two-wheeled bicycle. A bicycle needs to roll quickly enough, or it will fall over. An economy must grow quickly enough, or debt cannot be repaid with interest.

Also, government promises may be a problem with slow growth. Pensions for the elderly are typically paid out of tax revenue collected in that same year. It is easy for a mismatch to take place if the number of younger workers is shrinking or if their wages are lagging behind.

Figure 1. Author’s view of analogies of speeding upright bicycle to speeding economy.

I explain a little more about my bicycle analogy in Will the World Economy Continue to “Roll Along” in 2018?

Economies throughout the ages have collapsed. In some cases, entire civilizations have disappeared. In the past 100 years, partial collapses have included the Great Depression of the 1930s, the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Economic collapses are analogous to bicycles falling over.

[2] A growing supply of energy products is extraordinarily important for keeping the world economy operating.

We can see in Figure 1 that the energy of the person operating a bicycle is very important in allowing the operation of the bicycle to continue. In the world’s economy, the situation is similar, except that we are facing a problem of a world population that is continually growing. In a sense, the economic situation is more like a rapidly growing army of bicycles with riders. Each member of the economy needs goods and services such as food, homes, clothing, and transportation. The members of the economy can collapse individually (for example, growing suicide rate) or in much larger groups (collapsing government of a country).

Figure 2. World population according to the United Nations 2017 historical estimates and Medium forecast of population growth after 2017.

In an economy, we have a choice regarding how much energy to use. If more energy is used, workers can have many tools (such as trucks and computers) to leverage their productivity. If all goods are made with few energy inputs other than human labor, most workers find themselves working in subsistence agriculture. The total amount of goods and services produced in such an economy tends to be very small.

If supplemental energy is used, many more jobs that pay well can be added, and many more goods and services can be created. Workers will be rich enough that they can pay taxes to support representative government that supports many services. The whole economy will look more like that of a rich nation, rather than the economy of Somalia or Haiti.

Individual nations can grow their economies by using available energy supply to create jobs that pay well. Globalization sets up competition for available jobs.

If a given country has a lot of high paying jobs, this is likely to be reflected in high per capita energy consumption for that country. There are two reasons for this phenomenon: (1) it takes energy for an employer to create jobs, and (2) workers can use their wealth to buy goods and services. This wealth buys more goods and services made with energy products.

[3] One measure of how well the world economy is doing is world energy consumption per capita. On this basis, the world economy is already reaching limits.

Figure 3. World energy per capita and world oil price in 2016 US$. Energy amounts from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017. Population estimates from UN 2017 Population data and Medium Estimates.

It is clear from Figure 3 that energy consumption tends to move in the same direction as oil price. If “demand” (which is related to wages) is high, both oil price and the amount of energy products sold will tend to be high. If demand is low, both oil price and the amount of energy products sold will tend to be low.

Since 2014, energy consumption has remained quite high, but oil prices have fallen very low. Today’s oil prices (even at $70 per barrel) are too low for oil producers to make adequate investment in the development of new fields and make other needed expenditures. If this situation does not change, the only direction that production of oil can go is down, rather than up. Prices may temporarily spike, prior to the time production falls.

Looking at energy consumption per capita on Figure 3 (above), we notice that this amount has been fairly flat since 2011. Normally, in a growing world economy, a person would expect energy consumption per capita to rise, as it has most of the time since 1820 (Figure 4).

Figure 4. World Energy Consumption by Source, based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects (Appendix) together with BP Statistical Data for 1965 and subsequent, divided by population estimates by Angus Maddison.

The fact that energy consumption per capita has been nearly flat since 2011 is worrying. It is a sign that the world economy may not be growing very rapidly, regardless of what government organizations are reporting to the World Bank. Some subsidized growth should not really be considered economic growth. For example, some Chinese cities have been buying off the country’s housing glut with borrowed money. A better accounting would likely show lower GDP growth for China and the world.

Looking more closely at Figure 3, we note that energy per capita hit a high point in 2013, just before world oil prices began sliding downward. Since then, world energy consumption per capita has been trending downward. This is part of the reason for gluts in supply. Producers had been planning as if normal growth in energy consumption would continue. In fact, something is seriously wrong with demand, so world energy consumption has not been rising as fast as in the past.

The point that is easy to miss is that (a) growing wage disparity plus oil gluts and (b) high oil prices are, in a sense, different ways of reflecting a similar problem, that of an inadequate supply of truly inexpensive-to-produce oil. High-cost-to-produce oil is not acceptable to the economy, because it doesn’t produce enough jobs that pay well, for each barrel produced. If oil prices today truly represented what oil producers (such as Saudi Arabia) need to maintain their production, including adequate tax revenue and funds to develop additional production, oil prices would be well over $100 per barrel.

We are dealing with a situation where no oil price works. Either prices are too high for a large number of consumers or they are too low for a large number of producers. When prices are low, relative to the cost of production, we tend to get wage disparity and gluts.

[4] The reason why energy demand is not growing is related to increased wage disparity. This is a problem for globalization, because globalization acts to increase wage disparity.

In the last section, I mentioned that demand is closely connected to wages. It is really wage disparity that becomes a problem. Goods and services become less affordable for the people most affected by wage disparity: the lower-paid workers. These people cut back on their purchases of goods such as homes and cars. Because there are so many lower-paid workers in the world, demand for energy products, such as oil and coal, fails to grow as rapidly as it otherwise would. This tends to depress prices for these commodities. It doesn’t necessarily reduce production immediately, however, because of the long-term nature of investments and because of the dependence of oil exporters on the revenue from oil.

Figure 5 shows that China and India’s energy consumption per capita has been rising, leaving less for everyone else.

Figure 5. Energy consumption per capita comparison, based on energy data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017, and UN 2017 Population Estimates.

A major way that an economy (through the laws of physics) deals with “not enough goods and services to go around” is increased wage disparity. To some extent, this occurs because newly globalized countries can produce manufactured products more cheaply. Reasons for their advantage are varied, but include lower wages and less concern about pollution.

As a result, some jobs that previously would have been added in developed countries are replaced by jobs in newly globalized countries. It is probably not a coincidence that US labor force participation rates started falling about the time that China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Figure 6. US Labor Force Participation Rate, as prepared by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Lower wages for unskilled workers may also occur as the result of immigration, and the resulting greater competition for less skilled jobs. This has been a particular concern in the UK.

[5] Adding China, India, and other countries through globalization temporarily gives a boost to world energy production. This boost disappears as the energy resources of the newly added countries deplete.

Both China and India are primarily coal producers. They rapidly ramped up production since joining the World Trade Organization (in 1995 for India; in 2001 for China). Now China’s coal production is shrinking, falling 11% from 2013 to 2016. Both China and India are major importers of fossil fuels (difference between black line and their own production).

Figure 7. China’s total energy consumption compared to its energy production by type, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

Figure 8. India’s total energy consumption compared to its energy production by type, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

China and India’s big surge in coal production has had a major impact on world coal production. The fact that both countries have needed substantial imports has also added to the growth in coal production in the “Other” category in Figure 9.

Figure 9 also shows that with China’s coal production down since 2013, total world coal production is falling.

Figure 9. World coal production by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

Figure 10 shows that world GDP and world energy supply tend to rise and fall together. In fact, energy growth tends to precede GDP growth, strongly suggesting that energy growth is a cause of GDP growth.

Figure 10. World three-year average GDP growth compared to world three-year average energy consumption growth. GDP data is from the World Bank, based on 2010 US$ weights of GDP by country; energy consumption is from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

If a growth in energy consumption is indeed a primary cause of world economic growth, the drop in world coal production shown in Figure 9 is worrying. Coal makes up a large share of world energy supply (28.1% according to Figure 12). If its supply shrinks, it seems likely to cause a decline in world GDP.

Figure 11 shows energy consumption growth on a basis comparable to the energy consumption growth shown on Figure 10, except for different groupings: for the world in total, the world excluding China, and for the combination of the US, EU, and Japan. We can see from Figure 11 that the addition of China and Japan has greatly propped up growth in world energy consumption since 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization.

Figure 11. Three-year average growth in energy consumption, for the world total; the world less China and India; and for the sum of the United States, the European Union, and Japan. Energy data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

The amount of the “benefit” was greatest in the 2003-2007 period. If we look at Exhibit 10, we see that world economic growth was around 4% per year during that period. This was a recent record high. Now the benefit is rapidly disappearing, reducing the possibility that the world energy consumption can grow as rapidly as in the past.

If we want world energy consumption per capita to rise again, we need a new large rapidly growing source of cheap energy to replace the benefit we received from China and India’s rapidly growing coal extraction. We don’t have any candidates for a suitable replacement. Intermittent renewables (wind and solar) are not candidates at all. According to the IEA, they comprised only 1% of world energy supply in 2015, despite huge investment. They are part of the gray “Other” slice in Figure 11.

Figure 12. Figure prepared by IEA showing Total Primary Energy Supply by type from this IEA document

Academic studies regarding wind and solar have tended to focus on what they “might” do, without considering the cost of grid integration. They have also overlooked the fact that any energy solution, to be a true energy solution, needs to be a huge energy solution. It has been more pleasant to give people the impression that they can somehow operate a huge number of electric cars on a small amount of subsidized intermittent electricity.

[6] On a world basis, energy consumption per capita seems to need to be rising to maintain a healthy economy. 

When energy consumption is growing on a per capita basis, the situation is similar to one in which the average worker has more and more “tools” (such as trucks) available at his/her disposal, and sufficient fuel to operate these tools. It is easy to imagine how such a pattern of growing energy consumption per capita might lead to greater productivity and therefore economic growth.

If we look at historical periods when energy consumption has been approximately flat, we see a world economy with major problems.

Figure 13. World per Capita Energy Consumption with two circles relating to flat consumption. World Energy Consumption by Source, based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects (Appendix) together with BP Statistical Data for 1965 and subsequent, divided by population estimates by Angus Maddison.

The flat period of 1920-1940 seems to have been caused by limits reached on coal production, particularly in the United Kingdom, but also elsewhere. World War I , the Great Depression of the 1930s, and World War II all took place around this time period. Charles Hall and Kent Klitgaard in Energy and the Wealth of Nations argue that resource shortages are frequently the underlying cause for wars, including World Wars I and II.

The Great Depression seems to have been a partial economic collapse, indirectly related to great wage disparity at that time. Farmers, in particular, had a difficult time earning adequate wages.

The major event that took place in the 1990 to 2000 period was the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The central government collapsed, leaving the individual republics to operate independently. The Soviet Union also had strong trade relationships with a number of “satellite” countries, including Cuba, North Korea, and several Eastern European countries. In the next section, we will see that this collapse had a serious long-term impact on both the republics making up the Soviet Union and the satellite countries operating more independently.

[7] The example of the Soviet Union shows that collapses can and do happen in the real world. The effects can be long lasting, and can affect trade partners as well as republics making up the original organization.

In Figure 14, the flat period of the 1980-2000 period seems to be related to intentional efforts of the United States, Europe, and other developed countries to conserve oil, after the oil price spikes of the 1970s. For example, smaller, more fuel conserving vehicles were produced, and oil-based electricity generation was converted to other types of generation. Unfortunately, there was still a “backfire” effect related to the intentional cutback in oil consumption. Oil prices fell very low, for an extended period.

The Soviet Union was an oil exporter. The government of the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, indirectly because with these low oil prices, the government could not support adequate new investment in oil and gas extraction. Businesses closed; people lost their jobs. None of the countries shown on the Figures 14 and 15 have as high energy consumption per capita in 2016 as they did back when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Figure 14. Per capita energy consumption for the Soviet Union and three of its satellite countries. Energy data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017. Population data from UN 2017 Population data and Middle Estimates.

The three satellite countries shown on Figure 14 (Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland) seem to be almost as much affected as the republics that had been part of the Soviet Union (Figure 15). This suggests that loss of established trading patterns was very important in this collapse.

Figure 15. Per capita energy consumption for the three largest (by population) republics that made up the Soviet Union. Energy data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017. Population data from UN 2017 Population data and Middle Estimates.

Russia’s per capita energy consumption dropped 29% between peak and trough. It had significant fossil fuel resources, so when prices rose again, it was again able to invest in new oil fields.

Ukraine was a major industrial center. It was significantly impacted by the loss of oil and gas imports. It has never recovered.

The country that seemed to fare best was Uzbekistan. It had little industry before the collapse, so was less dependent on energy imports than most. Of all of the countries shown on Figures 14 and 15, Uzbekistan is the only one that did not lose population.

[8] Today, there seem to be many countries that are not far from collapse. Some of these countries are energy exporters; some are energy importers.

Many of us have read about the problems that Venezuela has been having recently. Ironically, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Its problem is that at today’s prices, it cannot afford to develop those reserves. The Wikipedia article linked above is labeled 2014-2018 Venezuelan protests. Oil prices dropped to a level much lower than they had been in 2014. It should not be surprising that civil unrest and protests came at the same time.

Figure 16. Monthly average spot Brent oil prices, through December 2017, based on EIA data.

Other oil producers are struggling as well. Saudi Arabia has recently changed leaders, and it is in the process of trying to sell part of its oil company, Saudi Aramco, to investors. The new leader, Mohamed bin Salman, has been trying to get money from wealthy individuals within the country, using an approach that looks to outsiders like a shake-down. These things seem like very strange behaviors, suggesting that the country is experiencing serious financial difficulties. This is not surprising, given the low price of oil since 2014.

On the oil-importer side, Greece seems to frequently need support from the EU. The lower oil prices since 2014 have somewhat helped the country, but the basic shape of the energy consumption per capita chart makes it look like it is struggling to avoid collapse.

Figure 17. Greece energy per capita. Energy data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017; population estimates from UN 2017 Population data and Medium projections.

There are many other countries struggling with falling energy consumption per capita. Figure 18 shows a chart with four such countries.

Figure 18. Energy consumption per capita for Japan, UK, Italy, and Spain. Energy consumption from BP Statistical Review of World Energy; population from UN 2017 Population data and Medium Estimates.

In a sense, even though oil prices have been lower since 2014, prices haven’t been low enough to fix the economic problems these countries have been having.

China is in a different kind of situation that could also lead to its collapse. It built its economy on coal production and rapidly growing debt. Now its coal production is down, and it is difficult for imports and substitution of other fuels to completely compensate. If slowing growth in fuel consumption slows economic growth, debt will become much harder to repay. Major debt defaults could theoretically lead to collapse. If China were to collapse, it would seriously affect the rest of the world because of its extensive trading relationships.

[9] Leaders of countries with increasing wage disparity and unhappy electorates can be expected to make decisions that will move away from globalization. 

Unhappy workers are likely to elect at least some leaders who recognize that globalization is at least a small part of their problems. This is what has happened in the US, with the election of President Trump.

The hope, of course, is that even though the rest of the world is becoming poorer and poorer (essentially because of inadequate growth of cheap-to-produce energy supplies), somehow a particular economy can “wall itself off” from this problem. President Donald Trump is trying to remake trading arrangements, based on this view. The UK Brexit vote was in a sense similar. These are the kinds of actions that can be expected to scale back globalization.

Conclusion

Having enough cheap energy for the world’s population has been a problem for a very long time. When there is enough cheap-to-produce energy to go around, the obvious choice is to co-operate. Thus the trend toward globalization makes sense. When there is not enough cheap-to-produce energy to go around, the obvious choice is to try reduce the effects of globalization and immigration. This is the major reason why globalization can’t last.

We now have problems with both coal and oil. With the decline in China’s coal supplies, we are reaching the point where there are no longer enough cheap energy supplies to go around. At first glance, it looks like there is enough, or perhaps even a superabundance. The problem is that no price works. Producers around the world need higher oil prices, to be compensated for their total cost, including the cost of extraction, developing new fields, and the tax levels governments of exporting countries need. Consumers around the world are already having trouble trying to afford $70 per barrel oil. This is what leads to gluts.

We have been told that adding wind and solar to the electric grid can solve our problems, but this solution is simply absurd. If the world is to go forward as before, it somehow needs a new very large, very cheap supply of energy, to offset our problems with both coal and oil. This new energy supply should not be polluting, either.

At this point, it is hard to see any solution to the energy problems that we are facing. The best we can try to do is “kick the can” down the road a little farther. Perhaps “globalization light” is the way to go.

We live in interesting times!

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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2,343 Responses to Nine Reasons Why Globalization Can’t Be Permanent

  1. Christiana says:

    I don’t think, european armies are going anywhere, I mean how? Yes, they can send some hundreds of soldiers and a hospital. But then?
    Egypt will fail soon, not enough energy, population growing too fast, no jobs for young academics.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      And ecologically devastated:
      Population 1960: 27.8 million

      Population 2008: 81.7 million

      Current population growth rate: 2% per annum (a 35-year doubling rate)

      Population in 2046 after another doubling: 164 million

      Rainfall average over whole country: ~ 2 inches per year

      Highest rainfall region: Alexandria, 7.9 inches per year

      Arable land (almost entirely in the Nile Valley): 3%

      Arable land per capita: 0.04 Ha (400 m2)

      Arable land per capita in 2043: 0.02 Ha

      Food imports: 40% of requirements

      Grain imports: 60% of requirements

      Net oil exports: Began falling in 1997, went negative in 2007

      Oil production peaked in 1996

      Cost of oil rising steeply

      Cost of oil and food tightly linked

    • This is a link to an article I wrote about Egypt back in 2011, when it had a lot of problems.

      https://ourfiniteworld.com/2011/01/29/whats-behind-egypts-problems/

  2. Third World person says:

    this is called peak stupidity

    Bitcoin energy use in Iceland set to overtake homes, says local firm
    Iceland is facing an “exponential” rise in Bitcoin mining that is gobbling up power resources, a spokesman for Icelandic energy firm HS Orka has said.

    This year, electricity use at Bitcoin mining data centres is likely to exceed that of all Iceland’s homes, according to Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson.

    He said many potential customers were keen to get in on the act.

    “If all these projects are realised, we won’t have enough energy for it,” he told the BBC.

    Mr Sigurbergsson’s calculations were first reported by the Associated Press.

    Iceland has a small population, of around 340,000 people.

    But in recent years it has seen a marked increase in the number of new data centres, often built by firms wishing to tout green credentials. Nearly 100% of energy in Iceland comes from renewable sources.

    Bitcoin mining refers to the process of connecting computers to the global Bitcoin network and using them to verify transactions between users of the crypto-currency.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43030677

    • iceland’s energy situation is unique in the world and cannot be replicated elsewhere

      i demolished bitcoin back in december before it started to slide—now theres a price on my head among bitcoiners
      https://extranewsfeed.com/bitcoin-24b3efd58ec

      • Greg Machala says:

        This level of insanity would make George Orwell blush.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Bitcoin’s current (December 2017) estimated annual electricity consumption stands at about 34 TWh. Which is about 0.13% of energy consumed world wide. That percentage doesn’t sound very much, but in world comparative terms, Nigeria and Ireland use less than that, as do 157 other countries.

          Perhaps the point of CCs is to ensure that demand for energy does not collapse… resulting in a a crash in energy prices… and bankrupting producers.

      • Greg Machala says:

        I never thought investing in Bitcoin would be wise. However, some people no doubt made money investing in Bitcoin. But to me, the whole idea of a virtual virtual currency kinda put me off a bit LOL. Hell the dollar is virtual enough the way it is. I suppose some are predisposed to high risk investing. Perhaps it is even addicting.

  3. Greg Machala says:

    Another reminder that we are reaching limits:
    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-11/11-cities-most-likely-run-out-drinking-water

    I was shocked that Mexico City’s population is 21 million. No small wonder then that they have water supply issues. I grew up on the Colorado River in Central Texas, so I have a good feel for how much water flows down that river. So, I did some digging and found todays flow rate of the Colorado River is about 400CFS or about 258 milliion gallons per day. If each of Mexico City’s residents used 17 gallons per day (my personal usage) then the city would need 357 million gallons of water per day. That is more water than the whole of the Colorado River is currently flowing. Amazing! I am just dumbfounded. No wonder then that the water crisis will never be solved.

    • this fits the mantra of ”always has—so it always will”

      thus politicians, economists and a few scientists keep repeating it. and gullible fools keep believing it

      but of course they have to—-what else is there to believe

      even the most doomy of doomsters in here doesnt know what the alternative to that is—-but it’s certainly dire,—so all we can do is ignore it

    • psile says:

      Cape Town is on a collision course with limits to growth right now, where it comes to water shortages, as are other regions of South Africa, with widespread ramifications for the economy of the country.

      Water crisis threatens not only Cape, but SA economy

      Cape Town’s water crisis is likely to have far reaching consequences, not only on the local economy, but on the national GDP. The water crisis threatens further downgrades from ratings agencies, hampering much needed investment, economists have warned.

      In a statement last week, Moody’s Investor Services indicated that the water crisis poses a credit risk to Cape Town’s debt rating, which is currently at the lowest level of investment grade – Baa3.

      Moody’s added that the city was on review for a downgrade. The ratings agency also said that due to the marked income inequality in the City, Cape Town’s water crisis posed a possible threat to social order. It said the crisis would have wide-ranging consequences for the city finances and economy.

  4. Baby Doomer says:

    International trade is slowing. What does this mean for globalization?

    Historically, the volume of world merchandise trade has tended to grow between 1.5 times to twice as fast as world GDP. But since 2012, trade has only been growing at a rate equal to or below that of GDP. In 2016, 20 of the world’s largest shipping companies sold $120 billion, compared to $200 billion in 2012.

    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/11/international-trade-is-slowing-what-does-this-mean-for-globalization?utm_content=buffer73538&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

  5. Jtroberts says:

    From Art Berman

    Cushing crude oil comparative inventories have fallen -36.6 mmb (188%) since early October.
    -17.1 mmb less than the 5-yr avg & lowest since Aug 15, 2014 when WTI spot was $97.17.

    So what’s happening?

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The rush to suck up the shale at record rates… is not enough to offset the declines in global legacy wells – so we are robbing our piggy bank?

    • Greg Machala says:

      We still have a lot of inventory left. However, we are falling below the 5 year rolling average inventory level. I suppose that has some bearing on the oil prices as of late. It will be interesting
      to see if oil prices rise to a level that increases production and halts the draw down of oil inventories. Of course, that would push prices back down again. We seem to be in a trap.

    • Do you have a link to an article from Art? Cushing is part of PADD 2, Midwest. Part of this could be a rebalancing.

    • According to the Remington article,

      “The company’s fortunes took a hit after the election of Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed ‘true friend’ of the gun industry, because Hillary Clinton’s defeat erased fears among gun enthusiasts about losing access to weapons. Sales plummeted, and retailers stopped re-ordering as they found themselves stuffed with unsold inventory.”

      • Baby Doomer says:

        Lies…They did fine under all the other Republican presidents of the past…

      • Dan says:

        They also recently lost a class action lawsuit where their most popular rifle series of all time (model 700) was misfiring resulting in numerous deaths and horrific injuries. The engineer who designed the trigger mechanism told Remington about it decades ago and the fix was literally less than a dollar per rifle. Remington made the decision not to fix the problem.

        I have 2 remington firearms in my gun cabinet, one being a model 700 30.06 so that is how I know about the lawsuits (plural) and the recall. Even if they stay in business I can tell you I won’t do any more business with them.

        I take my guns pretty serious and am planning a hunting trip to a farm I recently heard about – I believe the nice people who live there are named Cooper are something.

  6. Baby Doomer says:

    Our global society is too intertwined to argue that collapse will envelope only one geographic part of civilization.

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      huh?

      already, it’s obvious that Creeping Collapse is reaching into some areas of the world, but not most areas…

      of course, in two or three decades, The Collapse will be worldwide…

      but at first, the countries with abundant food AND fossil fuels will do as much as they can to wall themselves off from the early Creeping Collapses…

      best guess is the USA and Russia and China will be the last to fall.

      • NikoB says:

        I wouldn’t put money on the US. I think internal conflict there will rise faster than anticipated.

      • Mark says:

        Creeping collapse is a misnomer, and not what Doomer is alluding to. We know about creeping collapse from Cape Town to Caracas, he is referring to the ‘baked into the cake’ collapse of BAU and it’s cascading effects. Learn more here

  7. Lastcall says:

    Would this require that the mine shaft constantly be pumped to keep it free of flooding? This is not mentioned in the article.

    ‘A U.K.-based startup, Gravitricity, has just received a £650,000 grant from Innovate UK, the national innovation agency, for a plan that involves using disused mine shafts to store energy. It plans to suspend a 3,000-tonne cylindrical weight in mine shafts from 150m to 1,500m deep. The weight is attached to a series of winches that can lift it, and when electricity is needed, the weight is dropped to drive a turbine that creates electricity. It is then winched back to the top of the shaft using cheap, off-peak electricity. The technology can go from zero to full power in less than a second, has an efficiency of between 80% and 90% and can either run rapidly at high power for 15 minutes, or for up to eight hours at lower power. It has a 50-year design life with no limit on how often it can be used and it does not degrade, unlike batteries, the company says. In addition, it is easy to build, can be sited near existing transmission networks and is much cheaper than lithium-ion batteries.’

    Then there is this further on where the Author forgets these ideas are a form of storage mechanism, not a generation system …

    ‘This is not the first attempt to use gravity to generate power. An American company called ARES has developed a system that uses trains filled with rocks on a hillside, pushing them to the top of the hill out of peak demand and generating electricity by releasing the train and letting it roll to the bottom.’

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikescott/2018/02/09/dropping-a-weight-down-a-disused-coal-mine-is-the-new-way-to-store-energy-and-it-might-just-work/2/#

    • hmmmmm—another work of genius

      i daresay he didnt get the job driving musk’s car to mars

      • Lastcall says:

        Yeah, but he did get 650k …so not a bad effort! Nothing compared to Teflon Musk, but its a start.
        We should get with the program I guess, and get our own absurd projects funded. Maybe Gail change the name to ‘Infinite World’ and we get some funding happening!

      • djerek says:

        We should come up with a plan for giant wind-up springs.

    • Perhaps. It is probably worth a try.

      • jupiviv says:

        A suspended 3000 tonne weight in a mine shaft will face a whole host of problems, not the least of which is that it is a suspended 3000 tonne weight in a mine shaft. Other problems – the number of abandoned mines available and their distance to the grid, what % of surplus generation it can “store”, whether a series of winches is feasible to begin with etc.

        Basically, it seems this company is getting money for having an “interesting” idea which they haven’t actually tested or implemented in any way.

      • xabier says:

        Infinite World Blog: the actuary with vision, putting down the doomers with sharp one-liners, confounding them with her charts, and assuring everyone It Will Be All Right. Leonardo sticks building up to the heavens and beyond – even Mars.

        Advertising would flood in. 🙂

    • DJ says:

      3M kg * 9.8 * 1500 m / 3.6MJ/kWh = 12MWh.

      Enough to power 200-400 homes for a week.

      Take both physics and math with a pinch of salt.

      Water shouldnt matter much? Unless for rust.

      • DJ says:

        “for a day”

      • sink a hole in any natural material—earth, rock etc, and entropy will fill it in unless it is constantly maintain

        we could all write daft articles like this—but the ofw sceptics committee would never approve it

        • DJ says:

          My point was it doesn’t even store a lot of energy assuming 100% efficiency and no problems.

          A thousand Tesla cars winched a mile up and down every day … only equals 1/10 Tesla battery.

          I’m gonna start measuring electricity in Cheops pyramid equivalents. I expect one such doesn’t go very far.

        • This is a frustration. “Boundaries” on studies are too narrow, but it is hard to point this out to a group that has decided narrow boundaries are fine.

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