Sunday, June 19, 2022

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all of you guys who stepped up and were "Fathers" to at least on child.

Paging experts in heavy construction

Reader Aggie noted "The problem with the fuel-scare stories is that we are missing information. Why is there a shortage? We have back-stories about pipeline cancellations, about Federal Lease cancellations and no new auctions, and so on. But these do not explain the shortages - new projects founded those things take at least 5 years to come on line. What's driving the shortage? Is it refinery capacity? Is it natural decline in production? Is it a dramatic increase in consumption?"

One source I looked at suggested that there were very modest declines in refinery capacity and utilization rates.

Gulf Coast Distillate Refining Capacity Source

Gulf Coast Refinery Utilization Rate.You can click to expand the image. The "ball" to the right of the text-box is the month Biden was installed. Data for the last month listed, March 2022 is 94% Source

It is hard to see a 100% run-up in the price due to supply-side bottlenecks.

Base Oil Price

Cross-hairs show where Biden made his "Minor incursion" comment seeming to give Russia permission to take a minor bite out of Ukraine. The oil market was already watching the ramping of tensions and the price of oil was already climbing. Source of graphic. Source re Biden comment

Demand Side

Statistics from the demand side are harder to pin down.

One secular change to fuel consumption involves fulfillment of on-line orders. It used to be that if you wanted to buy a new vacuum cleaner or a power-saw you would do consolidate the trip with the weekly/monthly trip to the big-box-store.

Now it seems to be order-today-expect-it-tomorrow. Even if the fulfillment process is fuel efficient there is a net-increase in delivery trips over the model where the purchaser would "work it in" with an already scheduled shopping trip.

Delivery vans are ubiquitous. Distribution hubs tend to be in less populated areas with good access to freeways. The vans load up with 100-to-300 packages and drive to their area and then start delivering. Anecdotally, a typical load is a three or four hour run and involves 100 miles of round-trip driving. Using the mid-range, that is an incremental half-mile of driving per delivery in a van with a curb-weight of 5500 pounds and a max loaded weight of about twice that. That weight is a real fuel economy killer in a stop-and-go environment.

The other secular change is the amount of road construction going on and the amount of heavy construction equipment running.

While the number of road graders and bulldozers is small compared to the number of Dodge Cummins diesel pickup trucks used for personal transportation, there is a night-and-day difference between the amount of fuel used per day.

A typical pickup might be driven 320 miles per week and use 20 gallons of diesel, a 300 hp grader will use that much diesel per hour and be run 10 or more hours per day. Even though they might both have the same rated horsepower, the pickup truck is running at a much lower power consumption point (basically drilling a hole through the air and hysteresis losses of the tires) while the grader is running at near full-power the entire time.

Do any heavy construction guys have experience in how much diesel is used in a typical 24 hour day when working on an entrance ramp for a 2-lane-to-3-lane expressway conversion? I see at least 6 big pieces of equipment running every time I pass the local up-grade. And that estimate will not comprehend the dozen semis delivering gravel to the site.

Bonus image

Charlie Brown and Snoopy, the Later Years


  1. My Cummins diesel pickup (Ram 2500) gets over 20 mpg on average. Usually 21-23. Not that I drive it that much unless I have big loads or a trailer to pull (trailer does usually bring it down to the 14-17 mpg range) ... I have a Subaru Forester for most trips, which gets about 28-30 mpg. Very little of my driving is done in the city. Almost all rural roads or highway.

  2. Happy Fathers Day Mr.ERJ If I may suggest a video off you tube this morning. Caitlynne Curtis and Struggle Jennings live acoustic, God we need you now. Its the version with her standing in front of the American flag. He's got an intelligible rap vocal relevant to the times. (Not profane) She has a strong voice,my wife loves to sing along. Hope you consider listening. Take care,glad your wife is home safe,Allan

  3. Have you looked up which oil fields are producing and which are down?
    I've looked into it previous times that fuel spiked; oil demand is pretty inflexible - there are about major fields globally. If only 2 or 3 go offline, prices shoot up. IIRC, the last time prices really shot up there were fields offline in Norway for a strike, Nigeria for rebels taking down a pipeline, and Iraq for parts shortages.
    This time, Russia is effectively offline at a time of rising demand; I suspect that somewhere else is too. This is equivalent to several large fields offline, so supply is really tight while pandemic recovery is increasing demand.
    All the political talk doesn't help with forecasting either.

  4. I went to Columbus Indiana back in 84 to train at the engineering center of Cummins Diesel on the new "B" series diesel they had just developed . Over the next ten years I retrofitted two nationwide commercial fleets with the 3.9 4 B engine and later with the 4BT turbo version . "P" series fleet average mileage went from 7 to 8 mpg up to 12 to 16 mpg resulting in significant savings as well as longevity . Average miles per engine went from 75,000 to 150,000 mile replacement to 500,000 and up . Personally in my fleets I never lost a 4B before 500,000 miles had elapsed . In the same vein the engines in all newer earth moving and transport equipment are running upper level tiers that have increased work capacity per gallon of fuel multiple times even though the weaponized EPA has mandated removing half the power out of diesel over the years since the commies took over the government . There is only one reason we don't have $1.50 gas and $2.00 diesel . It is planned !

  5. Happy Father's Day ERJ!!

    I cannot speak for all places, but certain states - like California - usually experience bumps in pricing when there is a changeover from Summer to Winter mix or when they have to go down for maintenance. To what extent is the fact that we dependent on a fixed set of production facilities with an ultimate max capacity with some level of increased demand an issue?

  6. And I stole the Snoopy meme !

  7. I remember that "Charlie Brown" graphic novel, from my mis spent youth. Can you suggest a link? I'd like to acquire it, again.

  8. Search on "Weapon Brown" for the comic.

  9. The EIA is always a pretty decent source for information, but there is so much of it, it's sometimes hard to sort through the mass of data to find concise points. Here's the Weekly Natural Gas report:

    We're exporting a good bit of our natural gas as LNG now - more than 10% of production stream, something that wasn't allowed a few years ago, and with this development we also have near-record highs in the price that is being paid domestically. Why do we allow exports? Of particular interest is the in-ground storage, near the bottom.

    Note that the annual curve is bracketed by the 5-year minimum/maximum, and that we are riding close to minimum, in a time of year where underground storage is being replenished. You can see this on the Supply/demand curve above: in the winter time, gas is drawn out of storage to provide additional supply to produced gas, the brown line. And yet our national production is also very close to all-time highs. And yet new major pipelines that can transport both liquids and gas are being brow-beaten by environmentalists, subject to foot-dragging by the Army Corps of Engineers, and slow-walked approvals by the EPA - if they're not cancelled altogether by the President yanking their permits arbitrarily.

    We don't have a sane energy policy. We want clean power generation - but there is only one nuclear plant under construction right now (Vogel), and Progressive Leftist governors are prematurely closing others. That leaves natural gas as a relatively clean energy source - but it's being exported, and the prices are being driven up by scarcity. This will pass down to the consumer - not just with electric bills, but also with petroleum feedstocks: plastics, fertilizers, DEF for diesel engines, and so forth. While our Energy Secretary breaks out laughing when asked about fuel prices, and then comes back to criticize oil companies for not producing enough to meet demand, while planning for their own destruction in 10-15 years as per her plan (she literally said these two things on camera in one paragraph).

    1. A cogent article on substack by Michael Shellenberger, including the clip by loony tunes Energy Secretary Granholm.


  11. The shortages are, by the government's own admission, the result of shipping more fuel to Europe because those morons sanctioned their own supply from Russia. The EU thanks you for covering their stupidity.

  12. Under a normal workload the dozer I ran consumed about 4 gallons per hour. Track loader and excavator, maybe a little more. Dump trucks - 7 gallons per hour.

  13. The issue isn't really complicated. On his VERY FIRST DAY in office Pedo Joe signed an Executive Order revoking approval for the Keystone pipeline. Since then he and his associates have promulgated more than 100 rules, regulations and orders interfering with the exploration, drilling and production of oil. On election day 2020 America was a net energy producer. Less than 2 years later we are seeing massive shortages of energy and insanely high prices. Anyone with the IQ of a popsicle can see what caused it.

  14. Are there any stations that don't have fuel? Limits to how much you can buy? Then capitalism is working EXACTLY as it is supposed to. Yes it hurts but it's still better than those 2 alternatives. Jerry.

  15. Back in the day I built several miles of interstate standard highway, most of our spreads consisted of 12 -15 631D Cat scrapers, 2 D9 push tractors and 1 D8 ripper tractor in the cuts.
    Fills were handled with a D8 knockdown tractor or steel wheeled compactor with straight blade and a 16 series motor grader. This was all 80's early 90's equipment, no computers,electronic gizmo's, DEF etc. Stab it and steer.
    Best I remember it was 80-100 gallons a day per machine at 10 hour days. I built some 1 million + yard fills then, and ran some half million yard cuts. Not your average day job, but I loved it. Shot rock is a whole different story though.

  16. Heywood5150 and High Tech Redneck, thank-you for the hard numbers. Looks like I underestimated the number of pieces of equipment and overestimated the fuel consumption per piece.

    The current trend seems to be to run around-the-clock when they have the manpower and to use generators for light.

    I suppose you don't need many semis if you harvest your fill locally.

    Thanks a million! Real numbers beat pulled-out-of-my-ass based on horsepower BSFC and a guestimated load factor.

  17. Thanks Joe. The last job I was on a couple years ago had a lot of heavy truck work on it. Cat 733 and 777. Twenty yards plus to the load, all onsite haul. The contractor used D10 and D11 dozers in the cut to feed a 5110 hoe classed as a "mining shovel" to load with, 10 yard bucket on it. 2 scoops and the truck was loaded. I know that stuff sucked down 100 gallon of fuel or more per piece every day.
    I have also done work with 10 wheel dump trucks and Landoll Haul-All belly and side dump trailers but never really considered fuel useage as they were sub contract provided.
    That is why I lurk here, your thought provoking analytics and questions, and the gardening tips, my potatoes have never looked this good before.


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