Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category
Being landlocked Alberta has to rely on pipelines to move its Tar Sands oil. Move the oil to either refineries or to ports where it can be loaded on ships. Alberta has more oil than it can get to market. The petro planners in Wild Rose country are depending heavily on the Keystone pipeline. They are negotiating to get a pipeline to the B.C. coast which is facing intense opposition. Recently they have proposed a new pipeline to eastern Canada. And now they are coming up with plans to pipe the oil up to the Arctic Ocean where it can be loaded on tankers and shipped to market. The scramble goes on.
A new proposal for shipping tar-sands oil: Use the thawed Arctic!
Oil companies in Alberta have learned a key lesson about the tar-sands business. Namely: Extracting tar-sands oil is one thing. Getting it refined and sold is another.
Tar-sands oil prices continue to fall as companies struggle to figure out how to get it to customers. There are three routes to do so, shown above. The route headed west (in blue) represents the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline — a project that is on the brink of being cancelled. Heading south into the United States (in red), Keystone XL, the tribulations of which are legendary. Headed east (yellow), a possible pipeline to the St. Lawrence Seaway which, as far as I know, exists only in theory.
But there’s another possibility, one previously unmentioned — and previously impossible: Build a pipeline due north, to the formerly frozen Arctic Ocean. From Bloomberg:
Alberta’s landlocked oil producers facing pipeline bottlenecks to the south, west and east are welcome to ship their product north, according to Northwest Territories leader Bob McLeod.
McLeod, 60, said the territorial government would consider proposals to ship crude from Alberta oil sands producers, which include Suncor (SU) Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources, to the Arctic. The territory would consider piggybacking on any new infrastructure to ship its own oil and gas, he said. …
“The reality is, it’s doable,” McLeod said. “With climate change, the Arctic ice pack has melted significantly.” Asked if Alberta’s difficulties getting oil to market presents an opportunity for his region, McLeod said: “We think so.”
Ah, yes, the long-anticipated Northern Coast of North America. As Arctic ice reaches new lows during the summer months, ships have increasingly been able to navigate the Northwest passage. The changing climate for which we can thank the consumption of fossil fuels could finally allow us to bring the pollution-intensive tar sands to market. It’s the circle of life.
There’s one catch, though, which McLeod may not have considered. The pipeline would have to be built across a stretch of permafrost — an increasingly unstable foundation as temperatures warm and frozen earth transforms into soft muck. Not to mention the challenge of building a port for ships that won’t shortly be inundated with ocean water from higher sea levels. What climate change giveth, climate change taketh away.
The odds that this northern pipeline will come to fruition are slim, McLeod’s dreams notwithstanding. The salvation for companies trying to sell tar-sands oil remains in the same direction it’s pointed for years: south, over the U.S.-Canada border, through the Keystone XL. Whether or not that’s a pipe dream, only time will tell.
Alberta Oil Sands
Hydroelectric power stations are typically located near water sources, or on the source itself, such as dams on rivers. But Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Power Station is located more than 80 kilometers from the nearest water source – the Mississippi river. Built on top of the mountainous St. Francois region of the Missouri Ozarks, approximately 140 km south of St. Louis near Lesterville, Missouri, the Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Power Station is a pure pumped-storage hydroelectric plant, designed to help meet peak power demands during the day. During periods of high electrical demand, water stored in a kidney-shaped reservoir on top of Proffit Mountain is released through turbines into a lower reservoir, two kilometers away, on the East Fork of the Black River. At night, when electrical demand is low, the excess electricity available on the power grid is used to pump water back to the mountaintop. In essence, the power plant functions like a huge battery, storing excess power until it is needed.
Although pumped-storage hydroelectric power stations are found all over the world, the Taum Sauk plant is notable in that it is a pure pump-back operation – there is no natural primary flow available for generation, unlike most other pumped storage sites. It was among the largest such projects when it was built.
Construction of the Taum Sauk plant began in 1960 and operation began in 1963. The two original reversible pump-turbine units were each capable of generating 175 megawatts of power. They were upgraded in 1999 to units capable of 225 megawatts each. In 2005, the plant had to shut down when the upper reservoir suffered a catastrophic failure releasing 4 million cubic-meters of water in twelve minutes and sending a 20 foot crest of water down the Black River. The torrent of water roared into the Taum Sauk State park sweeping away the park superintendent’s home and critically injuring his three small children.
The plant returned to service after a gap of four years. The rebuilt upper reservoir is now considered an engineering milestone, being the largest roller-compacted concrete dam in North America. To prevent another catastrophe, five back-up systems are now in place and nine cameras dot the reservoir’s perimeter giving 24-hour surveillance to crews manning the facility around the clock.
Before the failure of the upper Reservoir visitors could usually drive to the top of Proffit Mountain and walk a ramp to an observation deck at the top of the reservoir. At the entrance gate there was also a museum highlighting the natural history of Missouri. The power plant was frequently visited by geology students because of a striking example of Precambrian/Cambrian unconformity in the rock layers exposed by the plant’s construction.
Interesting how oil dictates geopolitical relations. Governments and corporations are obssessed with finding and then pumping oil. Seemingly unimportant areas of the world that were once regarded as no more than boondock hinterlands, become the life of the party when oil is discovered under them. Such is the case with the Falkland Islands.
The Falkland Islands ( Spanish: Islas Malvinas) are an archipelago located in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about 310 miles (500 kilometres) east of the Patagonian coast at a latitude of about 52°S. The archipelago which has an area of 4,700 square miles (12,173 square kilometres) comprises East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 smaller islands. The islands, a British Overseas Territory, enjoy a large degree of internal self-government, with the United Kingdom guaranteeing good government and taking responsibility for their defence and foreign affairs. The capital is Stanley on East Falkland.
Controversy exists over the Falklands’ original discovery and subsequent colonisation by Europeans. At various times there have been French, British, Spanish, and Argentine settlements. Britain re-established its rule in 1833, though the islands continue to be claimed by Argentina. In 1982, following Argentina’s invasion of the islands, the two-month-long undeclared Falklands War between both countries resulted in the surrender of all Argentine forces and the return of the islands to British administration.
The population, estimated at 2,841, primarily consists of native Falkland Islanders, the vast majority being of British descent. Other ethnicities include French, Gibraltarian, and Scandinavian. Immigration from the United Kingdom, Saint Helena, and Chile has reversed a former population decline. The predominant and official language is English. Under the British Nationality Act of 1983, Falkland Islanders are legally British citizens.
On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands and other British territories in the South Atlantic. By exploiting the long-standing feelings of Argentines towards the islands, the nation’s ruling military junta sought to divert public attention from Argentina’s poor economic performance and growing internal opposition. The United Kingdom’s reduction of military capacity in the South Atlantic is considered to have encouraged the invasion.
The United Kingdom sent an expeditionary force to retake the islands. After short but fierce naval and air battles, the British forces landed at San Carlos Water on 21 May, and a land campaign followed leading to the British taking the high ground surrounding Stanley on 11 June. The Argentine forces surrendered on 14 June 1982. The war resulted in the deaths of 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors and airmen, as well as 3 civilian Falklanders.
The United Kingdom and Argentina both claim responsibility for the Falkland Islands. The UK bases its position on continuous administration of the islands since 1833 (apart from 1982) and the islanders having a “right to self determination, including their right to remain British if that is their wish”. Argentina posits that it gained the Falkland Islands from Spain, upon becoming independent from it in 1816, and that the UK illegally occupied them in 1833.
Diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina, which were severed at the outbreak of the Falklands War in 1982, were re-established in 1990. In 2007, Argentina reasserted its claim over the Falkland Islands, asking for the UK to resume talks on sovereignty. In 2009, British prime minister Gordon Brown met with Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and declared that there would be no talks over the future sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. As far as the United Kingdom and the Falkland Islands are concerned, no pending issue to resolve exists.
Argentina seems to have gotten very interested in the Islands again since the discovery of oil reserves offshore near the Islands.
A 1995 agreement between the UK and Argentina had set the terms for exploitation of offshore resources including oil reserves as geological surveys had shown there might be up to 60 billion barrels (9.5 billion cubic metres) of oil under the seabed surrounding the islands. However, in 2007 Argentina unilaterally withdrew from the agreement; Falklands Oil and Gas Limited then signed an agreement with BHP Billiton to investigate the potential exploitation of oil reserves. Due to the difficult climatic conditions of the southern seas exploitation will be difficult, though economically viable; the continuing sovereignty dispute with Argentina is also hampering progress.
Falkland Islands Economic Zone
In February 2010 exploratory drilling for oil was begun by Desire Petroleum, but the results from the first test well were disappointing. Two months later, on 6 May 2010, Rockhopper Exploration announced that “it may have struck oil”. Subsequent tests showed it to be a commercially viable find; an appraisal project was launched and on 14 September 2011. On 14 September 2011 Rockhopper Exploration announced plans are under way for oil production to commence in 2016, through the use of Floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) technology, replicating the methodology used on the Foinaven oilfield off the Shetland Islands. The proposal envisages a FPSO vessel located 200 km offshore servicing 24 production wells and 12 water injection wells in about 450 m of water. The wells will be arranged in clusters of 6 wells per drill centre. The two water injection well clusters will be 3.0 km from the four oil well clusters. Oil will be transferred from the FPSO vessel to shuttle oil tankers.
Not sheep farms and penguin populated backwaters anymore.
Village of Goose Green
Whether it be the Northern Gateway or Keystone pipeline, the future of petroleum movement in North America will be carried through these round metal conduits.
Pipelines are relatively safe as a method to transport petroleum and liquified natural gas. There are leaks from time to time, but when it is considered that there is tens of thousands of kilometers of pipeline, the safety record is very good.
I would like to see more green energy used in North America, but I am pragmatic, oil and gas will be the main source of energy for many decades to come.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jeff Rothschild’s machines at Facebook had a problem he knew he had to solve immediately. They were about to melt.
The company had been packing a 40-by-60-foot rental space here with racks of computer servers that were needed to store and process information from members’ accounts. The electricity pouring into the computers was overheating Ethernet sockets and other crucial components.
Thinking fast, Mr. Rothschild, the company’s engineering chief, took some employees on an expedition to buy every fan they could find — “We cleaned out all of the Walgreens in the area,” he said — to blast cool air at the equipment and prevent the Web site from going down.
That was in early 2006, when Facebook had a quaint 10 million or so users and the one main server site. Today, the information generated by nearly one billion people requires outsize versions of these facilities, called data centers, with rows and rows of servers spread over hundreds of thousands of square feet, and all with industrial cooling systems.
They are a mere fraction of the tens of thousands of data centers that now exist to support the overall explosion of digital information. Stupendous amounts of data are set in motion each day as, with an innocuous click or tap, people download movies on iTunes, check credit card balances through Visa’s Web site, send Yahoo e-mail with files attached, buy products on Amazon, post on Twitter or read newspapers online.
A year long examination by The New York Times has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.
Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.
To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air regulations, documents show. In Silicon Valley, many data centers appear on the state government’s Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory, a roster of the area’s top stationary diesel polluters.
Worldwide, the digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants, according to estimates industry experts compiled for The Times. Data centers in the United States account for one-quarter to one-third of that load, the estimates show.
“It’s staggering for most people, even people in the industry, to understand the numbers, the sheer size of these systems,” said Peter Gross, who helped design hundreds of data centers. “A single data center can take more power than a medium-size town.”
Energy efficiency varies widely from company to company. But at the request of The Times, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company analyzed energy use by data centers and found that, on average, they were using only 6 percent to 12 percent of the electricity powering their servers to perform computations. The rest was essentially used to keep servers idling and ready in case of a surge in activity that could slow or crash their operations.
A server is a sort of bulked-up desktop computer, minus a screen and keyboard, that contains chips to process data. The study sampled about 20,000 servers in about 70 large data centers spanning the commercial gamut: drug companies, military contractors, banks, media companies and government agencies.
“This is an industry dirty secret, and no one wants to be the first to say mea culpa,” said a senior industry executive who asked not to be identified to protect his company’s reputation. “If we were a manufacturing industry, we’d be out of business straightaway.”
These physical realities of data are far from the mythology of the Internet: where lives are lived in the “virtual” world and all manner of memory is stored in “the cloud.”
The inefficient use of power is largely driven by a symbiotic relationship between users who demand an instantaneous response to the click of a mouse and companies that put their business at risk if they fail to meet that expectation.
Even running electricity at full throttle has not been enough to satisfy the industry. In addition to generators, most large data centers contain banks of huge, spinning flywheels or thousands of lead-acid batteries — many of them similar to automobile batteries — to power the computers in case of a grid failure as brief as a few hundredths of a second, an interruption that could crash the servers.
Google Data Center
“It’s a waste,” said Dennis P. Symanski, a senior researcher at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit industry group. “It’s too many insurance policies.”
A few companies say they are using extensively re-engineered software and cooling systems to decrease wasted power. Among them are Facebook and Google, which also have redesigned their hardware. Still, according to recent disclosures, Google’s data centers consume nearly 300 million watts and Facebook’s about 60 million watts.
Cern Data Centre
Bytes by the Billions
Wearing an FC Barcelona T-shirt and plaid Bermuda shorts, Andre Tran strode through a Yahoo data center in Santa Clara where he was the site operations manager. Mr. Tran’s domain — there were servers assigned to fantasy sports and photo sharing, among other things — was a fair sample of the countless computer rooms where the planet’s sloshing tides of data pass through or come to rest.
Aisle after aisle of servers, with amber, blue and green lights flashing silently, sat on a white floor punctured with small round holes that spit out cold air. Within each server were the spinning hard drives that store the data. The only hint that the center was run by Yahoo, whose name was nowhere in sight, could be found in a tangle of cables colored in the company’s signature purple and yellow.
“There could be thousands of people’s e-mails on these,” Mr. Tran said, pointing to one storage aisle. “People keep old e-mails and attachments forever, so you need a lot of space.”
Jeremy Burton, an expert in data storage, said that when he worked at a computer technology company 10 years ago, the most data-intensive customer he dealt with had about 50,000 gigabytes in its entire database. (Data storage is measured in bytes. The letter N, for example, takes 1 byte to store. A gigabyte is a billion bytes of information.)
Today, roughly a million gigabytes are processed and stored in a data center during the creation of a single 3-D animated movie, said Mr. Burton, now at EMC, a company focused on the management and storage of data.
Just one of the company’s clients, the New York Stock Exchange, produces up to 2,000 gigabytes of data per day that must be stored for years, he added.
EMC and the International Data Corporation together estimated that more than 1.8 trillion gigabytes of digital information were created globally last year.
“It is absolutely a race between our ability to create data and our ability to store and manage data,” Mr. Burton said.
Hundreds of millions of people have been left without electricity in northern and eastern India after a massive power breakdown.
More than half the country was hit by the power cuts after three grids collapsed – one for a second day.
Hundreds of trains have come to a standstill and hospitals are running on backup generators.
The country’s power minister has blamed the crisis on states drawing too much power from the national grid.
The breakdowns in the northern, eastern, and north-eastern grids mean around 600m people have been affected in 20 of India’s states.
In a statement on national TV on Tuesday evening, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said he had appealed to states to stop trying to take more than their quota of power.
“I have also instructed my officials to penalise the states which overdraw from the grid,” he said.
Media reports in India have suggested that Uttar Pradesh is among the states that government officials have been blaming for the grid collapse.
But officials in the state denied this, saying there was “no reason to believe that any power operations in Uttar Pradesh triggered it”.
Anil K Gupta, the chairman of the state’s power company, called for “further investigation to ascertain the real cause”.
Also on Tuesday it was announced that Mr Shinde had been promoted to the post of home minister, in a widely anticipated cabinet reshuffle.
By late on Tuesday, officials said the north-eastern grid was fully up and running. The northern grid was running at 75% capacity and the eastern at 40%.
In Delhi, Metro services were halted and staff evacuated trains. Many traffic lights in the city failed, leading to massive traffic jams.
Much of the country’s railway network has started moving again, although a full service is not expected for many hours and there is a huge backlog to clear.
The failure on the northern grid on Monday also caused severe disruption and travel chaos across northern India.
One shopworker in Delhi, Anu Chopra, 21, said: “I can understand this happening once in a while but how can one allow such a thing to happen two days in a row?
“It just shows our infrastructure is in a complete mess. There is no transparency and no accountability whatsoever.”
In eastern India, around 200 miners were trapped underground as lifts failed, but officials later said they had all been rescued.
With so many areas without air conditioning, some Indians decided to jump the train and head to the beach.
North Dakota, the state straight south of Manitoba, where many residents of that province like to shop and gamble, is going through an unprecedented oil boom. New technology that allows extraction of hard to get at oil has caused oil production in North Dakota to almost triple over the last 6 years. Most of the new production is in the Bakken Formation, while the area of top production is around the small city of Williston located in the far west of the state.
May 13, 2012
North Dakota has passed Alaska to become the No. 2 oil-producing state in the country, reflecting how the embrace of new drilling technology is redrawing the U.S. energy map.
North Dakota’s daily production of oil rose 3.1% to 575,490 barrels in March, according to preliminary state data, 1.4% more than Alaska’s daily production of 567,480 barrels for the month.
Texas, which pumped 1.7 million barrels a day in February, holds a firm grip on first place.
The leap past Alaska came substantially earlier than thought. Most experts predicted North Dakota would surpass Alaska in 4-5 years.
For the record the top six oil-producing states are: 1. Texas 2. North Dakota 3. Alaska 4. California 5. Louisiana 6. Oklahoma
The vast oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is under federal jurisdiction. The states can only lay claim to oil 3 miles offshore. Through historical circumstances Texas can claim 9 miles offshore.
New York Times
To understand the magnitude of the current oil and gas boom in North Dakota, you need only stand alongside U.S. Route 85 anywhere just north or south of Williston at night. The area’s 200 drilling rigs are lit up like carnival rides: towers of floodlights make up a luminous vertical cityscape amid the surrounding darkness. Semis hauling heavy equipment, pipe, water, fuel, oil, rigging, and any number of other loads roll past — an unyielding train of oilfield supplies and products. And in the spaces where there aren’t semis, there are pickups hauling men back and forth to the drill sites.
Five years ago, say locals, this stretch of U.S. 85 was as quiet as a dance floor on a Tuesday morning, and the small towns of western North Dakota were drying up like shallow lakes in the desert. Now some are predicting that Williston, where fewer than 13,000 people lived a decade ago, could reach 35,000 by the year 2020. The more fevered projections have it eventually reaching 100,000 — almost the size of the entire Bismarck metropolitan region.
North Dakota has just surpassed Alaska to become the nation’s second-highest oil-producing state; the rate of unemployment there is the lowest in the country, topping out at 3.5 percent. One of the reasons North Dakota has generated so many jobs is that drawing gas and oil from the Bakken formation, the thin but widespread shale layer that sits roughly two miles beneath much of the state’s northwest corner, is now made possible by new, labor-intensive technologies. Geologists and oil companies have known about the oil-saturated Bakken for decades; they just didn’t have an economically competitive way to get the oil out of the rock and bring it to the surface. Drilling horizontal wells and fracturing the hydrocarbon-saturated shale with water under high pressure — “fracking” — changed all that.
But it takes a lot of water — millions of gallons per well — to perform the operation. The typical well, which takes about a week to frack, receives 800 to 1,200 tanker loads of heated fresh water. There are now roughly 50 private water depots scattered across the Bakken area, drawing water from aquifers, the Missouri River, lakes and ponds. It’s gotten so that energy speculators have begun offering cash to local farmers to convert their water permits to industrial use, just to keep up with the number of drill sites in the region.
The super oil rich Bakken Formation slices into the southwest tip of Manitoba. Could Manitoba experience a very substantial oil boom in the near future?
Alberta will likely see a bounce upwards in the number of migrants moving in from other provinces, a report from Edmonton-based ATB Financial predicted.
Economist Dan Sumner projected that in-migration to Alberta will probably return to around 20,000 people per year by 2013.
Sumner predicted that if there is another prolonged boom in the energy sector, net migration could spike to as high as 35,000 per year.
During the height of the economic boom in 2006, net migration reached 45,000, but that slowed when the recession struck in 2008.
Sumner predicted that will begin to change soon because of differences in unemployment rate, wages and housing prices.
If history is any guide, said Sumner, net interprovincial migration to Alberta could as much as triple from 2010 levels over the next few years.
“The most important factor that drives migrants to a certain regions is job prospects,” he said.
“Currently the unemployment rate in Alberta is 1.7 percentage points lower than in Canada and two full percentage points lower than in Ontario. This provides an incentive for Canadians to relocate to Alberta.”
Wages in Alberta are the highest in the country at over 15 per cent — or about $140 per week higher than nationally — higher than the Canadian average and close to 20-year highs. In addition, wages have continued to grow at a rate faster than the national average.
Housing prices are also relatively affordable, he said.
Alberta is a place for the rugged individualist and person who likes to own lots of big things. In other words it is not a place for a liberal left leaning idealist.
But Alberta does have great scenery.
If Israel attacks Iran gas prices could go to the moon.
Beijing traffic jam
Claim to fame: A 60-mile traffic jam on an expressway heading into Beijing has lasted since Aug. 19 and might continue for another month
Life in the slow lane: The ongoing jam on National Expressway 110, which links Beijing and North China’s Hebei province, caused by construction and a number of accidents, has shocked the world. But Beijingers are used to epic-scale gridlock. Despite the city’s six surrounding ring roads, numerous expressways, and the government’s restrictions on car use, urban planners simply can’t keep up with the massive influx of new cars that many of Beijing’s approximately 20 million increasingly wealthy people (many of whom have never driven a car before) have recently bought. Some 248,000 new cars were registered in the first four months of 2010, according to the Beijing municipal tax office, a rate of 2,100 new cars per day.
Driving in Beijing, which came in first on IBM’s latest survey of “commuter pain” among major world cities, is a truly frustrating experience: 69 percent of Beijing motorists admitted that on occasion they have just given up and gone home, 84 percent claimed traffic affected work or school performance, and the average commuter suffers through almost an hour of traffic just commuting to work. The city is pinning its hopes on one out-of-the-box solution: an enormous, solar-powered bus that literally drives over traffic.
Claim to fame: Muscovite drivers face the longest traffic delays in the world, with waits averaging about two and a half hours
Life in the slow lane:Drunk driving, bad weather, streets designed only for military marches and Communist officials in limousines, and well-connected individuals skipping traffic continue to make driving in this city an exasperating — not to mention costly and dangerous — experience. The Russian Transportation Ministry claims that $12.8 billion — more than the GDP of Iceland — is lost every year due to the miserable traffic conditions. Overall, Russia’s road-accident mortality rate is more than twice as high as some members of the European Union — despite the fact that Russians have about a third the amount of cars.
The Kremlin has addressed the traffic issue on numerous occasions, but with the country’s road infrastructure ranked 111th in the world and falling rates of public spending — despite the Transportation Ministry’s pleas to add almost 250 miles of road to ease congestion — Muscovites are not happy. One study showed that over the past three years, two in five residents of the capital have had to wait at least three hours for traffic to clear (an impressively low figure considering there are 650 traffic jams on average every day).
Claim to fame: In 2006, a single political protest caused a backup of half a million cars
Life in the slow lane: Some might think that freeway-clogged Los Angeles is North America’s worst traffic nightmare, but according to IBM’s survey, Mexico City is almost four times as tough for commuters. The Mexican capital has become famous for Darwinian traffic habits (an average of 1,500 pedestrians are killed in accidents a year) and pollution so heavy that it likely shortens life spans. Despite city initiatives to decrease the heavy traffic congestion largely caused by simply too many people and too few roads, more than half of Mexico City drivers said that the traffic has negatively affected school or work while 62 percent said that traffic is getting worse in a city with streets first designed by the Aztecs.
One uniquely Mexican trait is definitely not helping matters: The city averages about eight and a half street protests per day, further clogging the streets with demonstrators from all over the country. The city even has a website specifically designed to note every protest and the likelihood of resulting traffic blockages.
Claim to fame: The city holds the world record for the world’s longest traffic jam at over 165 miles on May 9 in 2008
Life in the slow lane: A traveler to Sao Paulo might wonder why so many drivers can be seen doing such menial tasks as shaving, watching movies, or playing video games while at the wheel. Given that Paulistas regularly spend three- to four-hours each day in traffic jams that can be over 100 miles long, it should not be too surprising that motorists are making themselves feel at home. Not only do Sao Paulo roads handle the city’s more than 20 million people poorly, but the city has simply not done enough to fix matters. The fast-growing and sprawling, decentralized megalopolis –spread across more than 3,000 square miles — suffers from extra traffic due to its lack of any fully functional ring roads.
Designated bus lanes, subway additions, and a car-restriction system that allows only a limited number of drivers on the road each day have done little to lessen the massive traffic congestion that costs the city an estimated $2.3 billion a year. The gridlock has gotten so bad that Sao Paulo’s well-connected and wealthy have made the city home to the second-largest helicopter fleet in the world.
Claim to fame: Frequent massive car accidents cause fatalities in the dozens
Life in the slow lane:Driving in Lagos is characterized more by the act of sitting — the standstill nature of driving in this booming city is so ubiquitous that Lagosians have created their own term for their city’s traffic: “go-slow.” Near the top of many lists for fastest-growing city in the world, Lagos for many years lacked any overarching plans for infrastructure, as its infamous traffic attests.
Overcrowding is not the only problem afflicting Lagos’s roads, however– vehicle-wrecking potholes, few working traffic lights, carjacking, corrupt traffic police, and flooded roads are also common. Traffic in Lagos, a coastal city on the Atlantic Ocean, is plagued by the fact that drivers are often forced to take narrow bridges, causing bottlenecks. Worst yet, according to urban lore, it’s dangerous to try to buy any items from street vendors while stuck on a bridge because there is a good chance that they or others nearby — knowing you have nowhere to move — are armed and looking to steal all your belongings.
In Canada Toronto is by far the worst. An average of 80 minute commutes per day. Montreal is a close second. Bangkok and Cairo have notorious traffic.
In the U.S. it is Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle.
Traffic on interstate outside New Orleans before Hurricane Rita. All the traffic is going in the same direction.
Morning commute over bridge in Chongqing, China.
Moscow evening traffic jam.
Chicago has the worst traffic jams in the U.S.