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Be Afraid: The Peak Oil news isn't good ...

by a siegel Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 01:53:03 AM EST

When will we hit Peak Oil? And, what will it mean?

One of the world's top experts has recently spoken and his answers to those questions are grim.

Who is this expert?  According to Byron King of Whiskey and Gunpowder:

ALI SAMSAM BAKHTIARI is a retired "senior energy expert," [retired from] the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) ... currently ... in the Corporate Planning Directorate of NIOC ... This alone ought to pique your interest because Bakhtiari has the ear of the most important decision-makers in Iran. What is he telling them?

Fortunately for us in the West, Bakhtiari is also an independent consultant who writes and speaks to a worldwide audience on the subject of oil depletion ... Based on what I have seen, Bakhtiari has a gift for understanding, and a unique ability to share this gift with others. There are few more qualified people in the world who can discuss Peak Oil. So when Bakhtiari talks, people ought to listen.

King, who is someone to listen to, tells me to listen to Bakhtiari. My ears are open. Yours should be as well.

One key challenge related to Peak Oil is whether we'll know it any other way than looking in the rear mirror.  At this time, in addition to hard numbers about falling productivity at key oil fields, oil discoveries continually being outpaced by usage, and questions about reserves, what the world (or at least the small portion who understands this issue) is doing is watching the comments of key people ... well, another one has spoken and the words should scare ...

In the just published essay The Century of Roots, A.M Samsam Bakhtiari -- a senior Iranian oil executive who retired in 2005 and has long studied peak oil issues -- starts

The 21st century is still young as there are another ninety-three years to go. So it might sound over-ambitious to claim that 'The Event of the Century' is already behind us. But I'll gladly take the risk; for I seriously believe that the peaking of the global production of crude oil --- commonly know as 'Peak Oil' --- has occurred in 2006 [1] and will be 'The Event' bound to dominate the history of the 21st century: one of those 'Historical Inflection Points' [2] which abruptly change "fundamentals" in the course of World History. I cannot foresee any other 'Event' coming to eclipse 'Peak Oil', not even the World Wars which might be unleashed in the Peak's aftermath and further fueled by widespread resources' scarcity. Unless, of course, humanity decides upon collective suicide with the massive use of weapons of mass destruction; but such an annihilating 'Event' would spell the word 'End' for most, if not all, of Mankind...

Somewhat terrifying, no?
After some 147 years of almost uninterrupted supply growth to a record output of some 81-82 million barrels/day [mb/d] in the summer of 2006, crude oil production has since entered its irreversible decline. This exceptional reversal alters the energy supply equation upon which life on our planet is based. It will come to place pressure upon the use of all other sources of energy --- be it natural gas, coal, nuclear power, and all types of sundry renewables especially biofuels. It will eventually come to affect everything else under the sun...

 According to The Hirsch Report examining mitigation of Peak Oil impacts, starting significant mitigation efforts 20 years in advance would mean that peak oil would have minimal disruption to the world economy. But, less than 20 years out and, well, not good things.
Mitigation efforts will require substantial time.

  • 20 years is required to transition without substantial impacts

  • A 10 year rush transition with moderate impacts is possible with extraordinary efforts from governments, industry, and consumers

  • Late initiation of mitigation may result in severe consequences.

What is "substantial impact"? For Hirsch, that means roughly 2-2.5% negative GDP for as long as 25 years or more. Easily a 50% total fall in worldwide economic activity. And, by the way, that drop isn't even accounting for the likely wars and other conflict driven by desire to control dwindling oil production (which would likely be even further reduced due to that conflict).

Just so that we all understand, serious mitigation has not started around the globe (and absolutely not in the United States).

According to Bakhtiari,

'Peak Oil', however, is now in the past and we are presently left facing the 'Post Peak' era.

And, well, Bakhtiari's prognosis about Post Peak are stern and, again, rather terrifying:
In 'Post Peak', all of our Systems of Habits are in mortal danger. ...

This "mortal danger" is heightened due to the extreme energy illiteracy worldwide, where the concept of "peak oil" seems to be just penetrating the discourse of some of the elite.
at present, the global masses seem totally unprepared for the two shocks which will inevitably occur in 'Post Peak' ...

What are the twin shocks:
1. A Material Shock;
2. A Psychological Shock.  

A "Material Shock" in that our entire economic and social system world-wide will be stressed (if not broken). And, this is not just transportation as oil has so penetrated every aspect of the modern, industrialized world.
How about this for 'material impact'? General projections are for "peak population" to hit somewhere mid century at 9-10 billion people on earth. Those traditional demographic projections don't take account for Peak Oil.  What is Bakhtiari's perspective?
Take, for example, population. In the 'Post Peak' era, population growth will gradually decrease before becoming stagnant (following crude oil) and passing a Peak of its own --- my early projections show a 'Population Peak' occurring some time around 2025 (a twenty-year lag respective to oil) at a global level of around 7.5 to 8.0 billion people. There is little doubt that crude oil is our world's 'Master Domino': when it thrives all other dominoes flourish, and when it tumbles it does topple all of the others too. Thus, interestingly, 'Peak Oil' will not usher in a revolution, but rather an evolution 'en sense contraire' ('in reverse gear').

And, "A Psychological Shock" since so few people and so few societies have any idea what the world will go through ...

So that the twin shocks are now inevitable on a global scale, as there is no time left to prepare public opinion for 'Post Peak' sequels. The shocks will first surprise, then jilt and finally entangle swaths of people worldwide. Those better prepared will be less inclined to react in a disorderly way and panic when the shocking truth will be unveiled...

Well, readers of this are among those "better prepared" in terms of knowledge but what is truly "better prepared" in terms of lifestyle? There are those who have created communities, preparing for post-peak. Most of those aware of peak oil's implications have, however, remained caught within lives that inhibit any real concept of "preparing", of retreating to a subsistence agricultural life not dependent on massive fossil fuel use for life.

Now, in many ways, Bakhtiari is more optimistic than Hirsch in terms of the economic impact.  While Hirsch states that starting mitigation at the point of Peak Oil would mean 20+ years of 1.5-2.5% negative GDP growth per annum, Bakhtiairi writes that

Due to the benign decline gradient in crude oil production during the early 'Post Peak' period --- only 3 mb/d over the first transition period spanning 2007 to 2010 --- the Material Shock will not pose insoluble problems and accommodation will prove possible with minimal gradual pain. Moreover, sizeable amounts of wastage in most developed societies will provide a welcome cushion for the initial cuts to be made

In other words, the economy (especially the United States) is so wasteful that the initial 'shock', a cut Bakhtiari of roughly 12 mb/d (or, roughly 15%), could be absobed through cutting waste. And, one would hope, the shock of this reality would shift investment and lifestyle choices to foster adjustment to ever dwindling oil production.

But, the psychological?

This shock, in stark contrast, will be electric and abrupt. Stress, fear, depression, despairs and nightmares will be the order of the day --- as people come to face the not-so-palatable facets of 'Post Peak'.

Now this, Bakhtiari concludes, will drive people back to their roots, almost in Medieval revivalist concepts. This, however, seems an overly optimistic assumption ... will the psychological shock drive jingoism ... demands for military action to 'seize' oil ... other destructive demands on political leadership ...

Bakhtiari is a voice meriting listening to ... we can began taking actions to mitigate against Peak Oil's worst impacts now, when some choice remains, or the reality of decreasing oil production will drive us into changes against our choice ... and, from everything that I can see, the time for choice is dwindling. Rapidly ...

This diary's title starts "Be afraid" perhaps because, like they say misery wants company, terror wants company. I want company. Right now I feel like a passenger in the backseat behind Thelma and Louise in the convertible as they put the pedal to the metal heading over the cliff ...

Ask yourself:  Are you doing your part?


Hard to find good news on the oil front ...

Good news on the alternative energy front, lots of promising things ... just, we have to hope that these developments and implementation come fast enough to mitigate peak oil and that we handle peak oil in a way that doesn't furter exascerbate Global Warming.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 01:54:43 AM EST
it's happening.  They started a program 5-6 years ago to attack the problem.  They simply can't buy enough oil to meet their needs for 1.2 billion people to enter the 20th century (much less the 21st) and they know it.  Necessity is the mother of invention.  The bad news is the USA hasn't NEEDED to get off its collective ass and work on the problem.  And Bushco was defn an enabler of all manner of bastards trying to protect their current franchises to print money.  I do have a bit of sympathy for the oil biz only in that when the price of crude was $10 in 1998 it's a bit silly to have expected them to invest like crazy in new capacity.

Once we sweep out the BUSHleagers in 20 months, the dinosaurs of his circle won't be able to stop the changes that will be demanded by a population pissed off at $4/gasoline.  Without a price shock, not a frigging thing will happen but luckily there's no way to stop the price rise.  We just need to get the Saudis and Kuwaitis to invest the proceeds in high tech energy device companies.

And there are some cool devices coming to market already.  She-who-must-be-obeyed has mandated that a pool will be built in the yard.  Since she's working to pay for it, my resistance was futile though vigorous.  But rather than just take the design the good ol' boys were going to install, I had a look around.  I can cut the energy demand for operating the beast by 75-90% with a few simple steps.

  1. Properly sizing lines ---  got to use Darcy's equation for the first time in decades. 5 PSI out of 25 PSI typical total head loss in the system saved.  Cost -- <dinner for 2 to upsize lines a tad and get long radius sweep elbows.  <br>
  2. use modern filtration technology (cartridges) instead of sand filters -- save 10-20 PSI of the normal 25 PSI expected. Cost <dinner for 4. <p>
Between those 2, I can cut head loss such that a 1/2 HP pump is the ticket instead of 1 HP.  At 35 cts/KW, that's $200-400/year.

3) Best of all - one manufacturer has a variable-speed-motor driven pump which seeks the speed that gives the set flowrate at the lowest energy draw.  It is a permanent magnet device similar to those hybrid cars.  90%+ efficient from 750 RPM to 3500 RPM.  Way cool.  

Rather than a single speed device pulling 11-15 AMPs (1/2 HP-->1 HP), this thing runs at a low, set flowrate (rather than running out the curve to whatever 3500 RPM gives) therefore pulling < half an amp.    Cost --  ugly but <1 year payout.  $1200 pump vs $400 pump.


4) skip the typical vacuum/pressure systems for auto cleaners -- major energy hogs requiring booster pumps or a larger main pumps.  Get a robot that runs off a cord for an hour or two at 1/10th the energy demand.  Cost difference.  $400ish cost diff vs. not having to re-load the pump.

And for the end times, I'm building a wood fired oven as part of the project.  

This is the sort of thing we need to demand from the Depts of Energy and transportation.  Raise CAFE standards.  Ban incandescent light bulbs by 2010-12.  Raise the bar on appliances/motors/etc.  I bet we can easily cut our energy demand by 25% without trying all that hard or demanding that much real sacrifice.

 Next year for us -- PV system or a windmill if I can get the neighbors on board even if I have to un-retire to buy it.

by HiD on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 07:30:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting material re pools and reflective the reality that most of live with compromises (whether spousal or otherwise) that inhibit "best" choice re energy all the time.

Re pool:

  • Solar:  Are you going to do solar hot water heating?
  • Solar: At 35 cents/kwh, sounds like solar PV starts to make sense -- at least for covering pool operations

But the frustration is that 'good old boys', writ large, in the economy don't build for energy efficiency.  As RMI has pointed out for years, how many electricians know that putting in one-grade better of copper wire provides an over 100% annual ROI in terms of reduced electricity use due to lessed resistance in the wires?

Thanks, I will return to this when I have time to look over your links.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 10:53:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I love to see how people make their own choices on how to conserve energy!

But I don't think that Cafe standards are the way:
Why  Government Cafe
Cafe Standards II

And "Ban incandescent light bulbs by 2010-12":
Should Governments Ban the Incandescent Lightbulb?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 01:45:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NFW!  way too much money/waste of energy and if it's too cold in Hawaii to go in a pool then (*&^ it.  We have friends that are struggling with the opposite problem.  Too much solar radiation making theirs into a bathtub.  We face north so that shouldn't be an issue.

Solar PV for the house is still marginal in my opinion.  We use about 600-650 KW/hr/month -- too much I know.  Bill averages about $250-300 with the add ons.  The only quote I've gotten is for about $25K FOB California for a system sized to make that go away on a net metering basis (no batteries).  Add in shipping, installation, wiring etc and I'd guess $35K.  so 140 month payout + interest or 10 years +.  That's still iffy to me.

Then consider that the real avoided cost of the electricity is only half the 35 cts.  The rest of the island will be subsidizing me for half of that return which I have a problem with.  Now I'm at 20+ year return.  We'll be looking at this harder this summer as my wife is managing a project that includes a system roughly 10X as large for a condo association.  I want to see how that goes together and operates before coughing up $35K.  My first preference is for one of those 12 meter home wind turbines.  Lower capital cost and with our wind situation, probably an equivalent op factor to PV.

by HiD on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 06:33:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for all the pool info.
i didn't use mine last year because of energy prices.

great frog-protein factory though!

pity i'm a vegan...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 03:05:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But don't you think that conserving energy is a more important issue? Thus locally grown resources should be used first (back yard resources).lol

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 04:23:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to use it, I'd be happy to show you the tricks to making the op cost drop.  I figure we'll spend an extra $1500-2000 to do this including the high eff. pump, low head loss filter and an automatic salt chlorine generator to reduce the amount of Chlorine we have to buy.
by HiD on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 06:35:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 04:19:16 AM EST
Is this the same type of experts that say:
Iranian Officials on the Health Advantages of Heavy Water Produced by Iran's Nuclear Project
Following are excerpts from interviews with Iranian nuclear experts on the various uses of heavy water, which aired on the Iranian news channel (IRINN) on August 29 and 30, 2006.

Reporter: Iranian experts have obtained the technology for producing heaving water, and this is not only a tremendous development in nuclear science, but will also open new horizons in the treatment of some incurable diseases. It is used for the diagnosis of various types of cancer. Heavy water is also used for labeling chemical reactions and syntheses.

Manouchehr Madadi, Director of the Arak Heavy-Water Facilities: [Heavy water] is an environment that is completely resistant to decomposition, and therefore, vaccines, organic substances, and some medications are usually stored in this environment, and do not decompose.

Reporter: The heavy-water reactor in Iran is a research reactor for conducting nuclear reactions. It has unique uses in diagnosing and treating cancer, producing radio-medicine, developing industry and agriculture, and conducting research activities.

Mohammad Sa'idi, Deputy for International Affairs, the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization: In various diseases, especially incurable diseases, such as cancer and AIDS, heavy water is now known to be a factor that can prevent the disease from spreading and can even eradicate it. Medical science in our country may become very active in this field, and we may be able to cure many diseases in the country, and in many cases, surgery may be avoided. The same goes for the difficult and lengthy treatment of AIDS.

Reporter: One of the advantages of operating the Arak heavy-water facilities is the production of light water. Light water may play an important role in preventing cancerous tumors and in controlling them.

Manouchehr Madadi: [Light water] can be included in people's diets, and can be consumed like regular water. Thus, even healthy people will become resistant to cancerous tumors, and the condition of sick people with cancerous tumors will improve, and the tumors will stop growing. In principle, the membrane of the cancerous cells is made of a certain type of protein. Deuterium-depleted water severely damages the membrane of the cancerous cells, and consumes the protein of the membrane.

Reporter: According to the research, when animals sick with cancer consumed light water, the tumor stopped growing in 70% of the cases, and in 59% of the cases, the cancerous cells were destroyed.


Azim Arbabi, former advisor to the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization: The water we use daily, which is in the sea and everywhere - each 5 cubic meters contains less than one liter of heavy water. Heavy water is not dangerous to anyone. If you give me a glass of heavy water - I will drink it. It is not dangerous.


Heavy water can be used for nuclear research. This is very useful. In the past, in order to moderate the speed of the neutrons coming out of the uranium, regular water was used. Before that, graphite was used. Now one can see that heavy water is more economical and works better. Heavy water is not dangerous at all and is not radio-active. As I said, anybody can drink heavy water up to one tenth of his weight, and nothing will happen to him. If you drink more than that, you will have problems - even if it's regular water.

Moderator: Regarding the water heavy water is produced - is it extracted from running water, which, as you said, contains a small amount of heavy water, or is it produced?

Azim Arbabi: That's a very interesting question. It is not produced, but extracted from regular water or sea water - just like you extract gold, for example, from river sand. In a similar way, you extract heavy water. In other words, it is separated by various methods. There is a variety of methods, and this is not the place to elaborate. By means of electrolysis... Or by means of the change that... Regular water boils at 100° centigrade, while heavy water boils at 101.4° centigrade, and this is another method of separation that can be used. Our colleagues use various methods to produce it. Clip #1259

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 04:33:04 AM EST
Do you think this contributes to the discussion, Ronald, or to the impression that you might just conceivably turn out to be a troll?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 05:54:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but I think you have to concede that the original source really had little to offer beyond one man's opinion.  Perhaps an INOC insider who should be more educated that most, but I still fail to detect any hard data for the conjecture that 2006 was the peak.
by HiD on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 07:32:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If RR wants to argue what you say, he can do it.

His post is not just off-topic. It offers both a strawman and an indirect ad hominem: here's an apparently lousy Iranian "expert", so Iranian "experts" are lousy by association, so a siegel's diary isn't worth further comment.

And the whole thing backed by a link to Likudnik MEMRI, hardly an independent source.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 09:00:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, afew.
I actually like yours and siegels posts and diaries.
But I have to be a little disappointed that the best he had was an Iranian expert. I remembered this from before and felt it may lead to a discussion about his credentials and it seemed that it did.

I do hope siegel has other sources for his information.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 01:21:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Check out Hirsch's work ... he is just one of many ...

And, well, I wonder at your "Iranian" discomfort. I am more uncomfortable with the work of EIA in terms of its bias in predictions.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 02:22:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To be honest I do not take much credibility in many predictions. Economists can not even predict one year in advance.
So I am uncomfortable with all sources. My first exposure was the oil 'experts' in the 1920s that said oil was 'peaking' or running out.

One aspect that is not discussed is that Peak Oil is based more on politics than actual technology.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 02:59:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually -- there is an entire history of his analysis that can be accessed via some of my links.  This was not his data-heavy analysis but that exists and, well, it is in line with others' work. And, to be honest, people 'I trust' put a lot of stock in his work.  

But, defining 'peak' relies on many assumptions but we should, in my mind, be on a global mitigation strategy with the concept that it is around the corner if not already occurred.  If wrong, worst we've done is have some wasted resources through accelerated moves to things that we would want to do in any event.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 10:56:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but I have to say a link to vague hand waving doesn't exactly support your title.
by HiD on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 06:09:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Peak oil has several components. The first, and possibly the least important, is the amount of oil in the ground.

Then there is the present and future technology used to recover the oil. This is both a technological and fiscal issue. New technologies frequently only get adopted when prices rise enough to make them worthwhile.

The biggest variable, it seems to me, is demand. If the world stopped using oil tomorrow we would never reach peak oil. This is also the aspect where making predictions seems most difficult.

I heard a prediction the other day that the number of cars in China was going to rise from about 50 million to 200 million over the next few decades. Whether this happens or not may be more important than the absolute amount of oil being extracted.

I think we should try to shift the discussion from supply to consumption. A recent survey in the US showed something like 80% support for forcing a rise in CAFE standards. The public is ahead of the politicians on this issue.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 10:35:04 AM EST
Actually, we need the discussion on all three.

And, well, the "peak" is predicated on the difficulty of extracting oil and a simple 'fact' of how much oil there is. One can push out peak quite a long time by assuming that all shale oil, tar sands, heavy oil is extractable. But, that assumption rests on very shaky ground.

But, yes, need to look at consumption both from the lens of "efficiency" (PHEV vs Hummer) and "usage patterns" (do Americans really need to drive the car watching their kids do trick or treat?).

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 10:59:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kenneth Deffeyes, understudy of the legendary M. King Hubbert who first introduced the concept of peak oil, called peak world production in the past tense in February of 2006.

In the January 2004 Current Events on this web site, I predicted that world oil production would peak on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2005. In hindsight, that prediction was in error by three weeks. An update using the 2005 data shows that we passed the peak on December 16, 2005.

 . . .

That's it. I can now refer to the world oil peak in the past tense. My career as a prophet is over. I'm now an historian.

In January of this year, based on revised production reports, he moved the peak date some months earlier.

The US Energy Information Agency publishes monthly estimates of world oil production at www.eia.doe.gov/ipm/t11d.xls. (Microsoft Office Excel Workbook) Of course, we hope that their estimates are not politically biased. Their current posting shows May 2005 as the month of greatest world oil production. Earlier, I estimated that the peak would be in December, 2005, but May will do. I'll take it. I'll take it.

Given the proclivity of the Bush maladministration to manipulate information for political advantage I would expect any bias in their estimates to tend toward a later peak date rather than an earlier one.  You may draw your own conclusions.

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 11:02:14 AM EST
Moreover, sizeable amounts of wastage in most developed societies will provide a welcome cushion for the initial cuts to be made

This, however, seems an overly optimistic assumption ... will the psychological shock drive jingoism ... demands for military action to 'seize' oil ... other destructive demands on political leadership ...

This sums up why my fears are political more than material. The US, at least, is not going to starve to death anytime soon. We can live poorer. On the political side, though, yes, I fear the end of democracy around the world and decades of fantastically destructive decisions made by elites willing to destroy anything in the hope of maintaining the size and reach (and thus power) of their networks (which will inevitably disintegrate regardless).

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 05:44:02 PM EST

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