Monthly Archives: September 2012

Matt Damon’s Anti-US Oil Companies Film Financed by Abu Dhabi

The documentary film “Gasland” had set the tone. The town of Dimock, Pa had been featured in a scene where fire was blasting out of the sink faucets –all because the natural gas companies were using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of the subsurface shale to release the trapped natural gas. The presumption was that somehow this fracturing was resulting in leakage of natural gas into the subsurface water from which the locals drew their drinking water.

It seemed like a good idea for a movie script, especially when it would bash those thieving rascals that run those evil oil and natural gas companies.  So, Matt Damon andJohn Krasinski said they would make the movie and it would be about “American identity . . . and what defines us as a country.” Whatever that means.  They planned to title the movie, “Promised Land”.  According to the NY Post, the story line was to have Damon, the big oil and natural gas company representative, exposed by an environmentalist.  The environmentalist would reveal the Damon’s (oil company’s) plan to “exploit, pollute and leave” the small community. 

The wheels began to come off the movie story-line when tests by the State of Pennsylvania and the EPA found that the Dimock water was not contaminated. In addition several other stories were reported further ruining the narrative that Damon, et al had chosen. Again, from the Post:

“There was Wolf Eagle Environmental Engineers in Texas, a group that produced a frightening video of a flaming house water pipe and claimed a gas company had polluted the water. But a judge just found that the tape was an outright fraud — Wolf Eagle connected the house gas pipe to a hose and lit the water.   Other “pollution” cases collapsed in Wyoming and Colorado. Even Josh Fox, who with his Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland” first raised concerns about flammable water, has had to admit he withheld evidence that fracking was not responsible.”

Surely, the Hollywood crowd will come up with something and you want to know why?  Because Abu Dhabi, one of the oil rich United Arab Emirates, is providing part the financing for this movie.   

Do you suppose that Abu Dhabi has an interest in slowing or stopping fracking altogether? Fracking is propelling the United States to a condition of oil and natural gas self-sufficiency.   The consequence will probably be to cause crude oil prices to drop. Because the Emirates’ economic life is predicated on sales of crude oil, this is a logical conclusion. 

But Damon is smart enough to make that connection.  Yet he is smearing US OIL AND GAS COMPANIES in order to stop fracking.  Liberals, seesh.

Click on the link below to read the entire NY Post story:

To read more of the Foundry Posting on Abu Dhabi financing the Damon picture  click here:



Electric Cars and Battery Systems are a Bust

Despite President Obama’s boast that HE was going to bring about the era of the electric car, it isn’t happening.  Yes, he did what he could.  He hoped that by not allowing the use of the most of our Federal lands, he could short the supply of crude oil and thus drive the price of gasoline up to a point where people would have to buy electric cars. It did not work because he could not stop the States and Private owners from developing their lands.  It is now routine to see new supplies of natural gas and crude oil being brought on-line.  He tried to do it by massive infusion of tax payer’s money into electric vehicle and battery production.  But the cars being produced just aren‘t cutting it with the buying public.  The prices are too high. Limited vehicle range coupled with long recharge times are not helping win them over either.  A lot of the EV problems can be attributed to their batteries which are too big and heavy, cost too much and have questionable reliability.

Toyota sees the writing on the wall and has announced that it is getting out of the EV business for now.  They will continue to produce and sell their popular Pris hybrid.

EV sales versus Obama’s goal   

The President’s said that he wanted 1 million EVs and hybrids on the road by 2015.  The Department of Energy released their analysis in 2011 that said 1 million was achievable.  However, sales of the hybrid Volt are a little over 20,000 since introduction in late 2010.  Sales of the EV Nissan Leaf are even smaller. See here ( additional discussion of 1 million cars goal from President Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democrat Convention.  Analysts from all over are saying it is time to back off this goal.

Hysteria from the Environmentalists

The documentary “Who killed the Electric Car?” was winning awards for its”brilliant detective work” demonstrating how the”evil” corporations did the 1990ty’s EVs in.  The awards were meted out by the same folks that still think the widely discredited “An Inconvenient Truth” is gospel.  It is going to be much tougher to invent a story for this round of EVs and hybrids, when the truth is that the consumers really don’t want these vehicles.  Sure, a small group wants them and they are the ones that go to the Sundance Film Festival.  They can buy a $110,000 Tesla and can afford to not make practical choices for their transportation.

Let’s see now, GM has put up $1.2 billion developing the Volt.  The Feds give a tax rebate of $7,500 to the buyer of a Volt—and they are talking about upping that figure. The dealers have been discounting the Volt to get them off their lots.  This year the factory producing the Volt has twice stopped production when the unsold inventory reached 85 days. And depending on how one does the calculation, GM loses about $50,000 on each Volt sold according to Reuters.

A new factory is being built in Tennessee to manufacture Nissan Leafs.  Nissan got a $1.5 billion low interest rate loan from the Feds for the construction. Nissan says the factory can produce 150,000 Leafs each year.  Sales of the Leaf through August this year are 4,228.  One has to wonder if Nissan Management isn’t concerned that they overbuilt this factory or perhaps even built it at all. 

And the battery maker story is even worse, in my opinion.  A123 got loans of $250 million from the Feds.  A123 was facing bankruptcy when the Wanxiang Group, one of China’s biggest auto suppliers purchased 80% ownership in the company.   Ener1 got $118 million in pledges from the Feds and another $80 million in State and local pledges.  It was declaring bankruptcy when Boris Zingarevich, a Russian businessman with ties to former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, bought them out. A123 and Ener1 are suppliers to our military as well as to the EV and hybrid manufacturers. The battery technology developed (paid for by us taxpayers) is now in the hands of the Russians and the Chinese. 

So, large amounts of money have been spent developing EVs and hybrids.  GM and probably Nissan are losing substantial amounts of money every day as they continue to produce the Volt and the Leaf.  The gasoline price is much higher than it was in the 90tys when that generation of EVs failed.  It will be very hard to generate a believable story line for a new documentary on what” killed the electric car” this time  unless they say  the customers did not want them.  Obviously that was the reason back in the 90tys, too.

Will there ever be a time for EVs?  Probably.   But it is not now.


Will The Solar Industry Survive?

Manufacturers of Solar Panels

Since the demise of the German solar panel industry, the major solar panel manufacturers are mostly Chinese. There are others such as Sunpower (French) and First Solar (American).   Sunpower, formerly an American firm, is now owned by TOTAL, the French petroleum giant.  Sunpower, formed in 1985, had stopped producing solar cells last year.  They were nearing bankruptcy having lost some $600 million.  However, they were able to restructure when TOTAL bought 60% of the company.  While the company has survived, the market does not have much confidence in its future.  In October, 2009 Sunpower shares sold for about $32.  Those shares now sell for $5.   Across the World, the subsidies that have been doled out for solar energy projects are diminished or have vanished altogether.  As of September, none of these firms are making a profit. 

Why Are The Solar Panels Makers Not Making a Profit?

A posting by the Telegraph (UK) reports on the Chinese solar panel makers’ financials: ”China’s big five firms are all reporting disastrous trading and heavily indebted balance sheets. At the end of the first quarter, JA Solar listed debt and liabilities of $1.5 billion, Trina Solar had debts of $1.08 billion, and Yingli had debts of $3.44 billion.  Suntech, once held up as a model company, could have to pay $690m in collateral related to a possible fraud, and it also has a $541m convertible bond payment in early 2013. Its total debts are $3.58 billion.  In the first quarter, LDK lost $185.2m as sales dropped by nearly 75pc.”

The manufacturers, particularly in China are increasing their production capacity so that it far exceeds solar panel demand and ironically, at a time when demand is slowing due to reduced or eliminated US and European government subsidies given to builders of solar farms. Further acerbating the profit problem is that some of the Chinese manufacturers are reported to be selling below the cost of manufacture (this is Dumping). The US has imposed a tariff on imported Chinese solar panels. The Europeans are charging the Chinese with “Dumping” and the result will be that the Chinese will lose that market too.  

China seems to be of two minds here.  The government is supporting these expansions because the government needs new jobs to contain China’s huge, annual increase of job seekers. Many believe that they will continue to build solar farms for the same reason. The competitiveness of all this is often secondary in a government run economy. Remember that the Soviet Union did this before they went broke.  Our government is not too far off of that track themselves when it comes to “renewable energy”.

Are Solar Farms Competitive?

Solar farms are the least competitive form of renewable energy.    

The US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that solar projects provide the most expensive power.   The EIA estimated levelized cost of new generation resources coming on line in 2017 are:

Type of Generation Cost   $/megawatt-h
Natural Gas- Conventional Combined Cycle 66.1
Conventional Coal 97.7**
Advanced Nuclear 111.4
Wind-On-Shore 96.0
Solar 152.7
  **potential C tax included


Solar is 2.3 times more expensive than natural gas.   The only reason anyone builds solar farms is because the Federal government loans the crony capitalists the money at basically no risk to the borrowers and then the States require the utilities pass on the cost on the their customers. The consumer pays at least 50% more for this form of electricity.  

The on-line German “Focus” posted an interview with Klaus Dieter Maubach, the Technology Chairman of E.On a major German power company and Maubach said:  (This quote is a translation from the German by Google translator)  Germany’s solar industry will disappear in the next five years in the face of competition from China. Not a single worker is still working at the German solar companies, as the latter are then all broke, it cited the Bloomberg news agency.”  The English also are becoming tired of supporting renewable solar.  The Spanish and Italian governments are reducing subsidies dramatically.   My guess that no matter which man, Obama or Romney, is elected President, the US government subsidies for solar will not be renew.  

Perhaps more money should be directed toward the development of Thorium reactors. We need to talk about these reactors in a posting.


Mars Rover Opportunity Has Been Operational Since 2004—See Photos Taken By That Rover

While the new, Mars Rover Curiosity is on everyone’s mind, Opportunity and Spirit Rovers have been on Mars since January of 2004.   Spirit’s mission was ended in May of last year after being stuck in sand for about a year. Opportunity is still operational.  Curiosity is more sophisticated than Opportunity and Spirit, but these two provided many new Martian mysteries to be solved.  NASA’s website has some of the pictures that Opportunity has taken that are full of wonder for us Earth bound.  You can see them here, and here and here.

The Mission Team for Opportunity and Spirit Rovers are to be awarded the Haley Space Flight Award.  At launch the targeted operational life of these two rovers, on Mars, was estimated at 90 days.  


Contrasting The Keystone Pipeline And Solyndra

Rep. Fred Upton(R- Michigan) illustrates the huge divide between the Obama view and that of Congressional Republicans when he contrasts the difference between the Solyndra and the Keystone Pipeline energy projects. Upton says:

 These two energy projects tell a dramatic yet revealing story, one that explains our slow economic recovery, our burgeoning federal debt, and our over reliance on Middle Eastern oil.   Solyndra – a bankrupt, federally subsidized solar project – and the proposed  Keystone pipeline carrying oil from Canada – are really symbols of a larger narrative, serving as examples of two distinct economic and governing philosophies. The Keystone approach supports free markets, encourages private investment and relies on technology instead of regulatory mandates to produce energy. The Solyndra model advocates prescriptive and detailed Washington planning, massive federal spending, and recasts energy bureaucrats as venture capitalists.”

 President Obama stymied attempts to authorize the Keystone pipeline saying that it was environmentally problematic because it would be built, in part, over a  major mid-American aquifer.  The pipeline’s proposed path was rerouted but still Obama would not give it the go-ahead.  It is widely understood that his in-action was taken to appease extreme environmentalist groups that are major campaign contributors.  Keystone would have the near term effect of employing thousands of people to build the line. It would have added to the Nation’s crude oil reserve and be supplied from a friendly country- Canada.  However, his inaction has resulted in the Canadians signing an oil sales agreement with China to be supplied from this same resource.  And get this— build a pipeline to the Pacific coast where the crude can be shipped by tanker to China.

Instead, Obama has been picking “renewable energy projects” to fund.  Solyndra is just one example of the many companies that his Administration has picked that have gone bankrupt.  Solyndra was given over $500 billion of taxpayer monies and those are all lost.  In Obama’s Presidential Nomination acceptance speech at the Democrat Convention, he promised to do more of this.  UGH!!

Upton sums up his case here:

“It’s time to start looking forward on energy policy and embrace the possibility of North American energy independence. Given the slow pace of Washington’s bureaucracy, policymakers are often busy solving yesterday’s problems. This rearview mirror approach afflicts Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress. They lack the vision to realize the energy world has changed dramatically even since the president took office. We now have the opportunity to significantly expand our North American energy supply – not through new regulations or federal subsidies, but by simply making commonsense policy decisions. We need to seize these new opportunities and adapt, not continue to support old policies conceived in a world when energy scarcity was in vogue.”

To read the full posting by Representative Upton click here.


President Obama’s Pants-On-Fire Acceptance Speech

The President’s acceptance speech at the Democrat Convention last Thursday was a pants-on-fire moment when it came to his energy program. (There were other topics besides the energy program in that speech that also rated high on the pants-on-fire meter—but this is an energy blog.)

The President claims responsibility for the decline in the use of imported crude oil.  “In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by 1 million barrels a day, more than any administration in recent history”. There are two primary reasons for this decline. First is because the manufacturing sector is still suffering from this less than robust economy—here his claim rings true as he is responsible for this economy.  The second is that the States and Private property owners have managed to overcome his and his administration’s efforts to stymie the development of oil and natural gas fields. Yes, oil and gas production are up but not on Federal lands where the President has the “say so”.  Oil production declined 11% and natural gas declined 6% on Federal lands from fiscal year (FY) 2010 to FY 2011.  At the same time on State and Private Lands’ oil production increased by 14% and natural gas by 12% over that same period.

 He said: “…. where we develop a hundred-year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet. If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone”. While he is claiming credit for the natural gas, it really is No Thanks to Obama who has sent the EPA out to find reasons to rein in (i.e., reasons to stop fracking of shale) this State and Private land activity.  

Oil and natural gas production from State and Private Lands will continue to increase and will be the driver of the US economic recovery.  Not the “green” jobs that he has been promoting.  We have doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries”. While Obama wants you think that wind and solar are soon to replace fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) that is not happening. Fossil fuels supplied 78% and nukes another 11% of the US energy needs in 2010.  Wind supplied about 2% and solar was barely above 0 %. That they are that much is a testimonial to the crony capitalism being practiced by the Federal government by subsidizing the capital cost of renewables installation. This practice leaves the rate payers holding the bag for the high cost of the electricity that renewables create.   It looks like the US will be joining most of the rest of the world that have become disillusioned with wind and solar when Congress doesn’t renew the subsidies next year.  Adding to their dismal performance is the fact that for every new Kw of wind and solar power, a corresponding amount of fossil fuel supplied energy must be built because wind and solar are too unreliable (the wind blows sometimes and not at others and we know the sun is not always shining) for the nation’s power grid to rely upon.  So not only are these unreliable renewables not competitively priced, the global warmers don’t get a reduction in CO2 emissions.

After 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas”. Despite the implication that he has accomplished something, this new standard is in effective 2025 and there are many reasons to question if it can be met. This will only be realized if significant numbers of electric vehicles replace gasoline based vehicles.  And how is that program going? The hybrid Chevy Volt, the leading US manufactured vehicle, has sold through August about 13,170 making it unlikely they will meet the 2012 forecast of 45,000. The Volt is brought to you by Government General Motors (GM).  Through August, the best-selling all-electric car, the Nissan Leaf, had sold 4,228 vehicles versus the 2012 forecast of 20,000.  The electric vehicles are neither affordable nor efficient for the overwhelming majority of consumers who commute for work.  The Volt’s selling price is about $45,000 before the Government tax incentive of $7,500.  Even at that price, a recent report says: “Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid, GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds, according to estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing experts.”  A little perspective, the projected US  2012 sales of vehicles is about 14 million.  There are something like 250 million registered vehicles in the US.  Even if the Volt were to sell 45,ooo it is drop-in-the-bucket. 

He says that man-made global warming is “not a hoax“.  He is wrong.  His EPA is writing regulations that will imposed a “cap and trade” program on the use of fossil fuels.  Cap and Trade failed attempts at passage in Congress.  Here he is usurping the legislative role of Congress.

The President’s energy program is a threat to all of us, and especially our children who are going to have to pay higher energy cost while having to cope with the massive debt this Administration has racked up.  


Global Temperature Anomaly Up in August

The UAH satellite measurement of the global temperature anomaly for the month of August was up slightly from July +0.28  to August +0.34C.   The running average since satellite temperature measurements began,  is about +0.2C.



Volt Sales UP But Little Likelihood Of Meeting Sales Forecast

GM reports that more than 2500 Volts were sold in August.  They also announced that they would stop production of the Volt for a month.  Volt production capacity is way in excess of current sales.  This is the second stoppage of Volt production this year. Total Volt sales through August appear to be about 13,170 which are well short of the 2012 forecast of 45,000 hybrids.

Nissan’s Leaf sales in August were 685 EVs versus 395 last month. Through August, sales have amounted to 4228 vehicles.  With four months left to go in the year, the auto media reporters are beginning to question Nissan’s many statements that they will sell more than 20,000 this year.  A penetrating insight by these reporters –Snark.

I guess it is late reporting of sales or losses thereof, but it is hard to make an exact accounting of the monthly sales figures.  The numbers change a lot. The auto industry accountants must have attended the same University as did the ones who issue the weekly national employment/unemployment figures.  Each week the old forecast is amended.


State By State Study Shows Unconventional Gas Is A Major Boon For The US Economy

A  previous posting, “Fracked Natural Gas Changing The US Economy”,  discussed the impact that fracked gas (aka, shale gas) is having and will continue to have on employment, investment, natural gas (NG) price (current and future), and Governmental Income in the US.  That discussion was based upon a study by IHS Global Insight that they released in December, 2011, This posting will review the details of a new IHS study released in June 2012 which totals all the sources of  unconventional NG— shale gas, tight sands gas and coal bed methane—and projects the total impact these unconventional NG sources have on the Nation and each of the lower 48 States plus DC.

There are 20 States in the lower 48 that are considered unconventional NG producers.  In addition to the TOP 10 employment producers shown in the chart below, the other ten are Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Virginia and West Virginia,  The other 28 plus DC are considered non-producers of unconventional NG.

Let’s begin with employment resulting from the exploitation of the unconventional NG. 

Number of Workers    












































Top 10 total




Prod States




US Total








The order of ranking is based upon the 2010 employment numbers. I have a little trouble with the display as it uses numbers down to the single digits out of millions; however, it does not take away from the forecast of an impressive growth rate.  The “US Total” includes the induced jobs in the non-producing States that benefit from the low-priced plentiful NG.   

IHS uses the following system to develop their results: The analysis of unconventional gas development and its contribution to the US regional economies was conducted using a top-down/bottom-up approach. The contribution was assessed separately for direct, indirect, and induced contributions defined as follow:

• Contributions of unconventional gas are those activities required to explore, produce, transport, and deliver natural gas to consumers or to provide critical supplies or onsite services that support unconventional gas activity.

• Contributions are defined as activities in outside industries that supply equipment, material and services for the development of unconventional gas and its tier suppliers.

• Contributions are the economic effects caused by workers spending their wages and salaries on consumer goods and household items.

Their study forecasts that nearly $3.2 trillion in investments will be made to  develop  unconventional gas  between 2010 and 2035.

The following IHC charts show other effects from their study,


        $ million  




Producing States





Non-Producing States





US Total  





These monies in this chart are derived from the expected Federal, State and Local tax revenues and from royalty payments.  The last column is the cumulative no. of dollars for the period 2010 to 2035.





Producing States




Non-Producing States




US Total  








IHC defines this chart as follows: The commonly used measure of GDP, which is simply the sum of the value added across all products and services produced in the United States, is generally considered the broadest measure of the health of the US economy. Value added to US GDP is defined as the sum of labor incomes, corporate profits, indirect business taxes paid, and depreciation. Annual value added to GDP from unconventional gas activities was more than $133 billion in 2010 and, by 2015, is projected to approach $200 billion. The majority of the value added to GDP—nearly 90%—over the 25-year forecast horizon is generated by unconventional gas production activities that take place in the 20 producing states.

IHC concludes that: Unconventional gas activity is expected to make a significant contribution to all of the economies of the lower 48 states over the next 25 years. Traditional oil and gas producing states like Texas and Louisiana will continue to lead the way in terms of their absolute contributions to the US economy. But many new and emerging energy states will drive much of the growth in the coming years, and the economic activity generated by this increase in unconventional gas activity will also reach well beyond the traditional unconventional producing states.

The full report can be seen by clicking here.