Archive for the ‘Our World’ Category

William (Bill) Black – Wall Street’s “Perverse Incentive Structures” Guarantee Another Crisis

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

There’s a lot of stuff going on right now in the economy, I’ll post some more soon, but for now let’s take a listen to one of the few coherent voices out there, William Black.

The Obama Administration says the recently signed Dodd-Frank Law, the biggest bank overhaul in decades, will ensure against another financial crisis.  William Black Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City couldn’t disagree more.

“They haven’t dealt with any of the fundamental perverse incentive structures that cause these recurrent, intensifying crises,” he tells Tech Ticker. In other words, the incentive to take excessive short-term risk in exchange for a multi-million dollar bonus is still very much intact. “Your pay should be based on long term performance instead of short term results which are easy to gimmick through accounting,” he says. 

Excessive pay on Wall Street, which Black says is the biggest culprit of the financial crisis, is just one reason we’re likely to witness another crisis in the not so distant future. Financial regulation reform also fails to deal with the “professional compensation” structure, says Black, a former federal regulator during the Savings & Loan Scandal. By that, he means the continued reliance on lawyers, appraisers, rating agencies and auditors ensures these professionals will remain the “most valuable allies to the frauds.”

We’re also no safer with the Dodd-Frank law than without it simply because, as a whole, the financial system doesn’t believe in regulation, Black observes. “It’s the ideology [which says] ‘you can never regulate effectively’, so why bother to try.” Finally, Black says, the law fails to end ‘Too Big to Fail’. As long as this policy exists we’re guaranteed to face more bailouts. “Why would we allow these systemically dangerous institutions to continue?,” he wonders.
Wall Street’s “Perverse Incentive Structures” Guarantee Another Crisis, Says Bill Black
by Peter Gorenstein – Yahoo

Uranium – the missing ingredient for a global switch to nuclear energy + thorium information

Monday, August 9th, 2010

I’m just going to quote this in-depth. Even though the person being interviewed is promoting his own interests, nothing he is saying as far as i can tell is inaccurate, and I’ve read the same thing elsewhere, repeatedly.


So without further ado, here’s part of an interview with Bill Powers (please note that this appears to be an automatically generated transcription, ie, it’s not very accurate):

Interviewer: A whole lot of newsletters cover oil and gas, but you picked uranium, which hardly anyone was covering until recently?

Bill Powers: I feel the uranium market right now could be the world’s most unbalanced commodity market. Inside a sense, the planet, by means of the nuclear power industry, consumes approximately 172 million pounds of uranium per year, as well as the planet only produces about 92 million pounds of uranium per year. The supply deficit is produced up through above-ground inventories, which are becoming worked down pretty quickly. Individuals numbers were supplied by Uranium Info Center. A great deal of my information arrives through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. For example, I discovered from them that the U.S. made, through the 1980s, about million pounds of uranium. And by 2002, the U.S. only created about 2.34 million pounds of uranium.

Interviewer: Exactly where is uranium being created in the United States?

Bill Powers: Wyoming. There’s also a uranium facility in Nebraska. I think there are two in-situ leach plants in Wyoming and an additional 1 in Nebraska. There are a couple of phosphate farmers in Florida who generate uranium. I believe there can be a facility in Texas that also produces uranium. For that most part, the uranium business in New Mexico has just about been wiped out. The extremely low rates that we’ve seen, for about twenty years, have pretty a lot wiped out the entire U.S. uranium market. To go from over 43 million pounds to less than 2.five million pounds, it has truly only allowed the most productive, highest margin and most efficient mines in the nation to continue operating in that environment.

A quick look at shale gas: 100 years supply or… 7? Plus other energy dreams

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

If you follow energy matters, you might have heard about the new shale gas extraction methods.

Allegedly the near cornucopia of free energy, the new methods, asides from using extremely toxic liquid materials to fracture the rock formations to let the gas slip out to the well bore, for extraction, have been promoted by people like T. Boone Pickens as the source for future US energy needs in the transport sector. The latter by switching the truck/heavy equipment fleet to natural gas power.

This is supposed to be a good idea because it’s supposedly a 100 year’s supply. As usual, sadly, with such rosy predictions, the real numbers, when re-examined in the light of non-delusional, somewhat sane, thinking, simply do not hold up.

A current posting highlights this issue.

Arthur Berman talks about Shale Gas

If you investigate the origin of this supposed 100-year supply of natural gas…where does this come from? If you go back to the Potential Gas Committee’s [PGC] report, which is where I believe it comes from, and if you look at the magnitude of the technically recoverable resource they describe and you divide it by annual US consumption, you come up with 90 years, not 100. Some would say that’s splitting hairs, yet 10% is 10%. But if you go on and you actually read the report, they say that the probable number-I think they call it the P-2 number-is closer to 450 Tcf as opposed to roughly 1800 Tcf. What they’re saying is that if you pin this thing down where there have actually been some wells drilled that have actually produced some gas, the technically recoverable resource is closer to 450. And if you divide that by three, which is the component that is shale gas, you get about 150 Tcf and that’s about 7 year’s worth of US supply from shale. I happen to think that that’s a pretty darn realistic estimate. And remember that that’s a resource number, not a reserve number; it has nothing to do with commercial extractability. So the gross resource from shale is probably about 7 years worth of supply.


BP Oil Spill – News – Image Overview

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Just the facts:

Oil in the Gulf, two months later – June 21 2010 – Oil spill photo gallery, disturbing shots, check it out. A picture is really worth a thousand words, and since they have a lot of them, I’ll save the words.

Gulf oil spill: BP accused of lying to Congress – June 20, 2010

BP has been accused by a senior US politician of lying to Congress to reduce its liabilities, after an internal company document showed that the oil giant’s own worst-case assessment of the size of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico was 20 times its public estimate.

In the document, BP attempts to put a figure on the rate of oil spewing into the ocean. It notes that if the condition of the well bore deteriorates to the extent that crucial parts fall off, the rate could reach 100,000 barrels a day.

Deepwater Horizon worker claims oil rig leaking weeks before explosion – June 21 2010

An oil worker who survived the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion has claimed that the oil rig’s safety equipment was leaking several weeks before it exploded, triggering the huge spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tyrone Benton says that he spotted a leak on the rig’s Blowout Preventer (BOP), the device that is meant to shut the well down if there is an accident. He told the BBC’s Panorama programme that both BP and Transocean, who owned the rig, were informed of the leak, and the faulty part – a control pod – was switched off rather than being repaired.


Horizontal – Directional – drilling and cementing and casing – a short video

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Warning: technical / engineering information. Proceed only if you want to understand how this weird oil drilling stuff works. For the real basics, you can also read An Introduction to Drilling Offshore Oil Wells, a fairly simple overview of the entire drilling/exploration process.

Ok, by now you’ve probably read something about parts of oil well drilling in the media because of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout/Spill, but you are probably having trouble visualizing how the actual drilling of complex directional wells proceeds. Directional means the well bore angles in, like the current BP Gulf spill relief wells, ie, they go down vertically then angle and are redirected towards a target.

In the video below, the target is a narrow band of oil in a geological layer. It’s an animation that shows fairly clearly the steps involved in drilling a curved well. In the relief wells, the target is a roughly 16″ steel casing, 18,000 feet below sea level, and about 13,000 feet below the ocean floor.

Cool, no? In this video you see how the basic directional drill works, how casing is inserted after the horizontal drill is removed, how cement is pumped up around the casing to create a solid bond (what the CBL, cement bond log that BP decided not to do checks, ie, that the cement is fully filling the space between the drill hole and the casing pipe.

At the end you see how a drill pipe is placed horizontally in the oil deposit, with multiple holes for accessing the reservoir’s oil along a great distance. Short in the video, but can be a mile or more.

Engineering fine points and explanations of the technology on directional drilling below the fold.