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Gulf Officials Optimistic That Cement Will Kill Well -Engineers for the company are preparing to pump heavy drilling mud and then cement into the Macondo well early this week, potentially killing it for good — or at least offering critical clues about any unknown leaks that still have to be plugged. The effort, known as a static kill, comes just over 100 days after the well blew out, spewing as much as five million barrels of oil into the gulf in the largest oil spill ever in American waters. Attempts to control the well have been marked by repeated failures and disappointments, but officials have become increasingly buoyant in their public comments in the last two weeks, since technicians managed to install a tight-fitting cap that stopped oil from leaking into the gulf.

Population Research Presents a Sobering Prognosis – With 267 people being born every minute and 108 dying, the world’s population will top seven billion next year, a research group projects, while the ratio of working-age adults to support the elderly in developed countries declines precipitously because of lower birthrates and longer life spans. In a sobering assessment of those two trends, William P. Butz, president of the Population Reference Bureau, said that “chronically low birthrates in developed countries are beginning to challenge the health and financial security of the elderly” at the same time that “developing countries are adding over 80 million to the population each year and the poorest of those countries are adding 20 million, exacerbating poverty and threatening the environment.”

U.S. Food Waste Worth More Than Offshore Drilling – MORE energy is wasted in the perfectly edible food discarded by people in the US each year than is available in oil and gas reserves off the nation’s coastlines.Recent estimates suggest that 16 per cent of the energy consumed in the US is used to produce food. Yet at least 25 per cent of food is wasted each year. Michael Webber and Amanda Cuellar at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin calculate that this is the equivalent of about 2150 trillion kilojoules lost each year. That’s more than could be gained from many popular strategies to improve energy efficiency. It is also more than projections for how much energy the US could produce by making ethanol biofuel from grains.

Foreclosures Continue To Dramatically Increase In 2010 – In a very alarming sign for the U.S. economy, foreclosures have continued to dramatically increase in 2010.  But there has been a shift.  Back in 2007 and 2008, experts tell us that most foreclosures were due to toxic mortgages.  People were being suckered into mortgages that they couldn’t afford with "teaser rates" or with payments that would dramatically escalate after a few years, and when those mortgages reset, the people who had agreed to them no longer could make the payments.  But now RealtyTrac says that unemployment has become the major reason for foreclosures.  Millions of Americans have become chronically unemployed during the economic downturn and many of them are losing their homes as a result.  But whatever the cause, one thing is certain – foreclosures have continued to skyrocket at a staggering rate. According to a new report from RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings climbed in 75% of the nation’s metro areas during the first half of 2010.  At a time when the Obama administration believes that we are "turning the corner", things just seem to get even worse. 

Why the Euro is B**ch Slappin’ the US Dollar – I got a chuckle out of this one: Not so long ago during the height of the so-called euro crisis, foreign exchange commentators were issuing doom-laden prognostications about how the single currency would fall to parity with the US dollar in a short space of time. Well wonder of wonders–the Eurozone is not collapsing. Indeed, the currency has recently vaulted its way past the $1.30 handle. I like to think it has something to do with ECB President Jean-Claude Tritchet–a great, great man–warning against runaway stimulus spending’s deleterious effects on maintaining the value of the currency debts are denominated in. As America has shown in recent years, it has little compunction in devaluing its currency. (After all, shortcuts to boosting export competitiveness and devaluing debts can’t be that bad, right?) Store of value–such an eccentric European conceit.

Double Dip: Off the Cone and On the Table – After fervently denying for months the remote possibility of a so-called “double dip” recession, as if anyone can predict an unknowable future, even the most ardent of green-shooters find their proofs of nascent improvement withering away in the face of a host of data that perhaps suggest a funny thing happened on the way to economic recovery.We would venture to suggest a double dip recession is unlikely, but for completely different reasons. Chief among them is that, as far as we can tell but only the National Bureau of Economic Research, arbiter of the nation’s business cycles, knows for sure, we never actually emerged from that recession which began officially, according to NBER, in December 2007.

Many Gulf of Mexico oil rig relocation decisions have yet to be made Diamond Offshore Drilling’s Ocean Confidence, a semi-submersible deepwater rig, is slowly making its two-month 7,000-mile voyage to the waters of the Congo. Meanwhile, Diamond’s Ocean Endeavor, still in the Gulf of Mexico, is being readied for its tow to the Egyptian Mediterranean. Together, the departures have come to symbolize the potentially devastating impact to the oil industry from the Obama administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf."We’re clearly seeing the rigs start to leave," Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said Wednesday at a news conference in front of the Capitol marking 100 days

Nuclear Power Games – Saudi Arabia wants to go nuclear. Like many developing nations, the kingdom has seen its electricity demand soar in recent years—more than 8 percent annually—and is actively searching for alternatives to fossil fuels. Enter nuclear power: last month Saudi Arabia announced a joint initiative with Japan’s Toshiba and American firms the Shaw Group and Exelon to build and operate at least two nuclear power plants in the country. This comes on the heels of the establishment in April of the King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy, an organization to manage future energy sources.  Of course, Saudi Arabia’s hardly alone in the Middle East in its desire for nuclear power. But unlike its poorer neighbors, it’s got the money to see its plans to fruition. However, the country’s legendary secrecy about its internal workings has some analysts worried about its nuclear ambitions. Unlike, say, the United Arab Emirates—which is quite transparent about its own $40 billion nuclear-power program and has even signed a bilateral agreement on nuclear cooperation with the U.S.—Saudi Arabia is unlikely to follow suit and show all its cards.

Greenland Ice Cap Melt Is Accelerating -A British research team studying the Greenland ice sheet has discovered evidence of a rapidly accelerating rate of melt. Dr Alun Hubbard, leading a team from the universities of Swansea and Aberystwyth said the ice sheet in their region had lowered six metres in just a month. The phenomenon is caused by surface melt, a vicious cycle in which melted ice brings about further thawing of the cap beneath it. As the ice turns to liquid, its surface reflectivity decreases, absorbing more of the heat from the sun, and accelerating the melt.

Government logs show delays in report of Michigan oil spill – What did Enbridge Energy Partners know about crude oil spilling from a ruptured pipe in west Michigan? And when did the energy company — and its Canadian parent, Enbridge Inc. — realize it had a potential disaster seeping into the Kalamazoo River? Rep. Mark Schauer, member of a House subcommittee that oversees the nation’s network of oil and gas pipelines, said the panel is launching an investigation to answer those questions. Schauer, a Battle Creek Democrat who lives 15 miles from the spill, continued his verbal assault on Enbridge on Friday, saying it failed to promptly report the leak to federal authorities, delaying their response.

North Dakota group worries about pipeline steel – A North Dakota environmental group wants government regulators to investigate whether a Canadian company used faulty steel in the construction of a pipeline that moves crude oil from Canada through six states. Dickinson-based Dakota Resource Council says TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline used steel from a supplier that has had problems with steel in other pipelines.

BP’s `Kill’ Start May Be Delayed Due to Storm Debris -BP Plc’s next attempt to more fully seal its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico was delayed by a day so the company can remove debris from a relief well.  The “static kill” procedure, in which mud will be pumped into the well, may start Aug. 3 rather than Aug. 2, National Incident Commander Thad Allen told reporters on a call yesterday. Tropical Storm Bonnie, which entered the Gulf on July 23, caused some of the sediment along the sidewalls of the relief wellbore to fall inside. BP must remove the debris before running a well casing.

A Critical Examination of Matt Simmons’ Claims on the Deepwater Spill – Matt Simmons, author of Twilight in the Desert, has long been one of the most famous and influential voices on the subject of peak oil. After the release of his book, Simmons rose to fame as Saudi Arabian oil production declined and global oil prices skyrocketed.However, Simmons has lately been making hyperbolic claims related to the deepwater spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Based on the scenarios Simmons has outlined, he argues for responses such as using a nuclear explosion to seal the well and evacuating 20 million people from the Gulf Coast. Extraordinary responses such as these would impact a great many people, so The Oil Drum staff felt that a critical look at some of Simmons’ claims was in order.

China invests 40 billion dollars in Iran oil, gas – Iran’s main economic partner China has invested around 40 billion dollars in the Islamic republic’s oil and gas sector, a senior Iranian official said on Saturday.  Deputy Oil Minister Hossein Noqrehkar Shirazi also said that Teheran’s oil exports to China fell by 30 percent in the first six months of 2010 compared with the corresponding period last year. ‘The volume (of Chinese investment) in upstream projects is 29 billion dollars,’ Noqrehkar Shirazi told Mehr news agency, adding that Beijing had signed contracts worth another 10 billion dollars in petrochemicals, refineries and oil and gas pipeline projects.  He said China has also put forward proposals to participate in building seven new refineries in Iran.

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