A Question For You – Energy Dependence and Peak Oil

As you all probably noticed we had some issues with the blog over the weekend, which were resolved yesterday at some point.  The post I had been working was stuck in cyberspace, so instead of giving you a poorly written post I decided to ask you a question instead.


There has been some discussion in the blog lately about Peak Oil and I’m wondering where you stand on the issue?  Is it an issue at all?

My view is that our economy needs a steady supply of energy – oil in our case – to keep expanding.  It seems that oil these days is getting harder to come by, which is why we’ve been using methods such as fracking and deep sea drilling.  All the easy oil is gone and now we’re going after the harder stuff, which yields less return on investment.

Does that mean we should buy solar panels and electric cars while we have the chance?  It seems to me that we don’t really have anything in place to take the place of oil at this point and we don’t have have the infrastructure we need in order to convert our world to another energy source.

What’s your opinion?

Sound off below.

-Jarhead Survivor

43 comments… add one
  • Ben Price May 14, 2012, 11:21 am

    The notion that we are running out of oil, and that it is going to be increasingly more expensive to get out what’s left is propaganda. The only reason we are having a fuel crisis right now is that we do not have the facilities to produce gasoline and diesel because our government declared a moratorium on building any more refineries, and the ones that we do still have are falling apart. There’s vast, huge deposits of oil sitting in the Colorado Rockies right now, and up in ANWAR, and off both coasts, that remain untapped because of esoteric environmental considerations that are not science based being used to prevent our industry from retrieving it.

    We have enough domestic oil, natural gas and coal to keep us going for hundreds of years. We are nowhere near peak oil yet, and the markets are being artificially inflated due to extremist lobbying efforts. I will let the readers come to their own conclusions as to why all this mis-information is being disseminated by the media and the current administration.

  • irishdutchuncle May 14, 2012, 11:52 am

    one of the first “extreme” preparedness sites i started reading was titled: Life After the Oil Crash. (seems to have gone away) a hippie guy at my job told me about it. i got some good ideas from there anyway. the most radical changes we’d see, without oil, would be in transportation. there would also be a mad scramble for alternative home heating.

    we’d still have ways of making electricity for years, but there would be trouble sending the repair truck…
    the economy only needs to “grow” to supply the demands of the growing population. the most important areas for potential growth are in low cost housing, and in agriculture. (otherwise many will be starving to death in debris huts, which come to think about it is how lots of the world lives now…) everything else is a luxury.

    i’ve included several innertubes, and a spare set of bicycle tires in my preps. (probably dry rotted by now)

    • irishdutchuncle May 14, 2012, 1:05 pm

      regarding: “infrastructure”, somebody way above my pay grade has decided we are to be a “service economy” or an “information economy”. they have closed their american factories, and sent lots of “our” jobs to the third world. (can you say rust belt boys and girls? i knew you could. i like the way you say that)

      anything that we can do to change this situation will need to come from us… we don’t need “their” permission. (they won’t give it, anyway) “they” want our situation to be just exactly what it is.

    • BM May 14, 2012, 1:18 pm

      That was the same site that got me into prepping too. I’m familiar with a lot of energy issues, working in the solar and fuel cell industry, given public talks etc, and I’m still amazed that we havent really suffered any peak oil problems yet.
      Well, almost. I’m also amazed that the financial system hasnt fallen over from similar ‘extend and pretend’ massive denial problems. In the US, people can clearly see there is not enough money to fund all of the pension and social benefits that people are expecting, indeed are owed, after decades of paying into the tax base. Cant afford to be paid in anything but inflated dollars. And yet, and yet….. nothing happens.
      I’m apathetic myself towards the problem – what is the point in preparing? No amount of solar panels and bike tubes will maintain your lifestyle once peak oil chokes the economy. It will be such a paradigm shift that no-one can predict what will actually happen to modern society when it comes.

      • irishdutchuncle May 15, 2012, 9:24 am

        which is why you need to put preping into high gear now, while it can be done. i expect my “retirement” to be less liesurely than that which todays retirees enjoy. i don’t mind changing my lifestyle. i know reality can be harsh sometimes.

        i’m trying to rebuild my tool kit now too, so i can remain employable for as long as i can. i’m also looking for a new “cottage”, because there will be much more cottage industry in the future, out of necessity.

  • T.R. May 14, 2012, 1:01 pm

    Jarhead ,
    The United States has never had an oil dependency problem , the United States has an infrastructure problem . The fact that all our streets , highways and interstates are clogged with trucks , proves we are doing it wrong ! The only trucks we should see are the local boys taking freight from the train station to where it needs to go . Our freight rail should be triple what it is now and our passenger rail should be at least up to the modern equivalent of what it was in WW2 . The long haul trucker is a job that shouldn’t exist in the US . We are pretty damn backward in that respect . Oil dependency isn’t the problem , our habits are the problem . Seriously , there are probably 3 cars to every man woman and child in this country ………..how many more cars do we really need ? I resisted for a long time trying the light-rail our city has , But once I tried it , its great , I can do other things beside looking at traffic , dont have to look for a place to park , dont have to fill up my tank with gas once every week , etc . It doesn’t go everywhere , but I have to admit it is nice . If your rural , your stuck , but the freight issue is another matter . just sayin

    • Novice May 14, 2012, 5:04 pm

      While you are correct in your assessment, we are too far down the rabbit hole to change it now. We don’t have any money for major infrastructure projects.

      • T.R. May 14, 2012, 5:52 pm

        Well , actually there is a way ………… its how we should be handling our military involvement to begin with …..every time . We need a formal declaration of war on a nation( s) that deserve it ( perhaps NKorea , Iran , both , etc .) What a formal declaration of war does is gives the government temporary power to create infrastructure and ration fuel supplies for the war effort . WW2 is a very good example …… after 2 years of gas rationing , forcing people to use the rail and other …… they would be used to it . When the war is declared officially over , the infrastructure would be in place with it being used . It sucks that people would have to die in war to do it but look at we are doing now after 12+ years in the middle east with no pay off of any kind whatsoever .

      • T.R. May 14, 2012, 11:02 pm

        No we dont have money for infrastructure ………… but we always seem to have money to send our troops to some god forsaken shithole , just sayin .

    • Cliffystones May 15, 2012, 9:45 am

      I tried “Metrolink” for a few months from Simi Valley to Burbank (California). While the train ride wasn’t bad, getting to and from the train stations at both ends sucked. So. Cal. is just so spread out that it will take more that a few rails and subways to cover the changes needed.

      • T.R. May 15, 2012, 1:58 pm

        Yeah , our city to city rail has a lot of work to do , it seems better back east than in the west ATM , I cant say about other cities light rail , but ours is fairly new , The route they planned is very good , it stops by major points of interest and need , such as the airport , ASU , downtown , other popular high use areas . Students without a car can have it made . Whoever designed our freeways als deserves a pat on the back , for all of them being an afterthought , they are very well done and you can get from one side of the city to the other fairly quickly for a city this size ( you do have to plan it so you miss directional rush hours )

  • Jason May 14, 2012, 1:44 pm

    Personally, I think Peak oil is a crock & a myth created by the big oil – did you notice on the Forbes list of most profitable companies are oil companies? There are vast & discovered supplies still remaining so it is of little concern to me.


    I do agree with T.R. about “us” being lazy & not using rapid transit or just walking a mile or two to the store. When you go to other countries you see how backwards AND how wasteful we are – it’s embarrassing. It is so common in many European cities to take the rail, bus, taxi or walk that it is almost a waste to have a car and many people drive cars the size of a pregnant roller skate.

    Further the US leads the league in oil consumption worldwide – 18.7 million barrels PER DAY over twice the amount by China!

    Pretty much tells the tale ….

    • DrRus May 15, 2012, 9:17 am

      I agree with T.R. and you on some points.

      (I disagree with you that Peak Oil is a myth – it’s a non-renewable resource and as such – there is a limit to it. Plus, we may be sitting on oceans of oil, but if we can’t access it or if it costs 2 barrels of oil to extract 1, what’s the point?)

      I think one of the biggest issues was have is that in a matter of a generation America went from “We want to be better than everyone else” to “We are better than everyone else”. We lost the desire to improve ourselves and the country, just look at the work ethics of the current young generation and compare it to our parents, the difference is night-and-day.

      Yes, we could follow the European model and use rail and buses for public transportation, but I somehow don’t see little “Miss Princess” loading up in a packed bus to go to work, while she could be stuck in traffic in her air conditioned car instead, painting her toenails while waiting.

      The technologies to use less oil are already out there – in Easter Europe and Australia a vast number of vehicles use conversion kits to run the cars on propane/butane/methane. The railroads in many European countries have a high voltage power line strung above them and electric train engines are just as popular as the diesel powered ones, although mostly for passenger trains. Electricity is cheaper because of the many nuclear power plants.

      These are all solutions that unfortunately America cannot implement fast enough to avoid trouble if oil prices skyrocket (because of an event or decrease in explorable reserves). Katrina was the perfect example of how in times of peril many people today would rather begin looting right away…Luckily for us, those looters tend to go for the electronics stores first, so we’d have some time to go to the grocery store and stack up on much needed supplies :)

      Cliffs notes:
      *oil will eventually run out
      *very high price of oil possible, too
      *America unprepared to deal with high oil price in a timely matter
      *looting and civil unrest these days are the preferred pastime of people in peril, especially in big cities.

      • T.R. May 15, 2012, 2:09 pm

        “We want to be better than everyone else” to “We are better than everyone else”.
        You hit the nail on the head , the consumer has a great deal of power ……..if they would just use it , necessity truly is the mother of invention . We are better than everybody else is a horrible myth , we are in a steep decline , our morals , ethics and integrity is way to flexible as a people . Everyone and everything is not alright , next the liberals will be trying to propagandize our children into thinking that child molesters are simply misunderstood and we should be tolerant of them and that is normal behavior . We will see if Jeffersons predictions will come to pass . I just worry about the children growing up now as they will have to deal with the fall out that is coming .

  • Steve May 14, 2012, 3:07 pm

    I’m in the energy field like BM and have gone back and forth on this issue for awhile. When you read about our natural gas resources and the vast amount of oil available in the tar sands, it makes you think that we’ll never run out. But the key issue isn’t the availability of energy its how energy prices are manipulated by subsidies, the markets and war. As mentioned by others its also about how our infrastructure is set-up to keep the oil companies rolling in cash.
    I think the bottom line is that although there will always be fuel available, it will just keep getting more expensive. You will be glad you have those grid-tied solar panels and a wood stove just to take the edge of the high costs that are inevitable. There is nothing better than seeing your electric meter run backwards on a sunny day or having the fuel oil guy think he has the wrong house since you didn’t use any oil last month :)
    BTW thanks for all the great posts – appreciate the time you guys put into the site.

    • sam May 14, 2012, 8:26 pm

      it doesn’t matter if there is oil or gas in the ground if the amount of energy required to extract said oil and gas is equal to the amount that can be extracted. one only needs to look at the hockey-stick graphs of Return on Energy Invested to see this.

  • Novice May 14, 2012, 5:00 pm

    There is no question that we have reached “peek oil” in a per capita sense. The amount of oil being pumped per person on the planet is now beginning to decline. I don’t, however, see this as a collapse situation (though it may lead to one). A famous line in the commodities markets is “the cure for high gas prices is high gas prices”. As oil becomes less available the price will go up and price people out of the markets. We will be forced to make changes. It will start with canceling a vacation and then transition to more telecommuting and eventually we’re back to urbanization. The only question is whether the economy will last long enough for the transition.

    • Michael May 14, 2012, 5:20 pm

      Sounds about right to me.

    • BM May 14, 2012, 9:08 pm

      Thats the key, isnt it. How long will we have to adjust? If you look at some of the recent mini-crisis(notably the UK) it can take only days, potentially only hours depending on how you start counting, before business-as-usual begins to break down when people think there is a petrol shortage.
      If people dont see a solution in sight, then hoarding will be rampant, making the problem worse. And once the government is compelled to step in, to force you to change your commuting, shopping and living habits in the name of energy efficiency, is that not the-end-of-your-world-as-you-know-it?

      • Novice May 15, 2012, 11:15 am

        That is a big question mark about timing. We do have some historic president though. On 9/11 gas prices shot to $5 (a 200% increase at the time) as some greedy station owners decided to take advantage of the situation. While we did see long lines to get the fuel it didn’t result in a societal break down. Remember, this was combined with the black swan event of the terrorist attacks. It would take a much bigger issue to cause TEOTWAWKI.

        • BM May 15, 2012, 12:58 pm

          In the 9/11 case, it was price gouging. There was no initial decrease in available oil, just fear.
          In the cases I’m thinking of, there is an actual shortage of oil, just (so far) a temporary one. If there is no oil available, at any price, then you will have to limit your activities that use it, such as driving to work, police patrols, deliveries etc.

          And I wasnt thinking the end of ‘the’ world, just the bubble of comfort that is your world.

  • Michael May 14, 2012, 5:19 pm

    I think we dodged a bit of a bullet when the economy blew up before the oil situation got really bad. But, big changes are coming.

    We don’t have as much coal as is generally claimed and what we d have left is mostly fairly low-grade stuff. Natural gas fracking is a joke. Most of the big players are up to their necks in debt and it pollutes ground water supplies. The EROEI on tar-sands is really low. What they’re really doing is converting cheap water and natural gas into expensive and easily exportable oil. Oil’s only going to go higher in price from here on out.

    I’m betting on living as car free as possible-bicycles are the way to go, and living in small to medium sized cities where you can grow a big garden.

  • T.R. May 14, 2012, 6:02 pm

    One interesting thing to contemplate is this , no matter how we slice it ….fossil fuels are finite . When they are gone , they are gone ……forever . What are all the militaries of the world going to use to keep their jets flying , tanks moving , etc . when the fuel runs out ? Unless there is a synthetic , non petroleum alternative , everyone and everything is going to eventually grind to a halt . Never seen a fighter jet run on solar cells , just sayin .

    • Jason May 14, 2012, 7:32 pm

      “What are all the militaries of the world going to use to keep their jets flying , tanks moving , etc . when the fuel runs out ? Unless there is a synthetic , non petroleum alternative , everyone and everything is going to eventually grind to a halt .”

      What a great thought … maybe then everybody will keep to themselves!

      • T.R. May 14, 2012, 11:05 pm

        Everybody would become infantry based , and moving from here to there would be challenging , Steam power would make a comeback .

  • TiredOldGuy May 14, 2012, 8:00 pm

    Having family both here in Australia and in the pacific island nations, I do know that _if_ you try to revert back a more fuel efficient lifestyle it will be a shock.

    While there are cars in the pacific, it is not uncommon to see the busses totally packed, every vehicle is shared (only tourists will have a vehicle half empty), bicycles and horses are fairly common sights once you get away from the tourist zones.

    And this is what I think will become more common – not the total removal of cars and trucks, but rather a much more shared and varied road experience, as well as more public transport. Ethanol can only help replace some oil.

    As for electricity, the shift towards efficiency will most likely speed up. Computer stores here in Aus can’t keep up with the demand for power-efficient laptops and notebooks, but can’t seem to give away the desktop computers.

    Still, the greatest threat isn’t the lack of fuel, not for preppers – it will be those that do not want to change. The entitlement culture towards fuel is scary – how many have seen television reports on people demanding lower fuel prices, _below_ cost of extraction? As if it is their right.

    • T.R. May 15, 2012, 2:31 am

      Well if it got real , real bad , the automobile would revert back to what its use was originally intended to be ………a toy for the wealthy .

  • sam May 14, 2012, 8:40 pm

    taking our minds away from oil and concentrating on the grandiose:
    there are certainly a finite number of atoms in our universe. there is certainly a finite number of atoms in our galaxy. given these obvious points to ponder, it is certainly a corrollary that there is a finite amount of energy, given that mass and energy are synonomous (remember e=mc^2?). so, given that there is finite energy and mass, we must accept that exponential growth will certainly lead to scarcity of resources. the only question is one of when the resource need will outpace resource availability.

    just today, news stories about saudi arabian transition to solar exploration was published. if that’s not a clear indicator that the available amount of energy in the world is reaching desperate levels of scarcity, then i don’t know what will convince you.

    if governments were run by rational individuals, then a transition could be arranged, but we all know that the world is run by petulant children. we will see continued nationalization of energy companies vis a vis argentina and bolivia as the arch example of kicking the can down the road. rationing will become a reality. cities will go dark. it’s not a matter of if, but when.

    the shtf tie-in, i think, is in countries going to war to protect their resources, and in energy droughts shocking regional economies. folks, i tell you to invest in good hiking boots because the reality is that the work-efficiency rating of the human body will again be the benchmark energy index, not WTI or brent.

    • Jason May 19, 2012, 10:34 am

      Well your extrapolation was quite a stretch there sam, pardon the pun.

      E=mc², Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, proved the cosmos are not static & the universe is expanding. Given that certainty, alternative source of energy do exist but we have yet to discover them or, more to the point, profit from them.

  • KC May 14, 2012, 8:50 pm

    On Peak Oil;

    There are far more enlightened minds than I on the subject, however for me, it was the primary reason I began to look at the world differently than I had prior to my wake up call in November 1979, when I heard my father lose it at a local gas station, because of the long lines and the then unheard of price of $1.29 per gallon of leaded gasoline. That small event was the beginning of my journey into the rabbit hole of energy resources and in regards to fossil motor transport fuels, the finite supply of them to keep the world “Happy Motoring” into the future. Since that day, I’ve kept up on global pricing, availability and various subsidies than nation-states employ to keep the pumps flowing. I agree that mass public transit is a certain solution to reducing demand for motor transport fuels, in fact I don’t use a private motor vehicle for anything farther than 30 miles from my home. If it can’t be done via Amtrak or Greyhound, then it can’t be done, so I don’t worry. While many naysayers out there, claim that rail transport won’t return to the level experienced prior to the creation of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System, I honestly don’t think anyone has a choice, if they expect the Nation-State to remain a viable institution, rapid communications, were and are the most vital component in the maintenance of the nation-state, since if you can’t project power where its needed, then the population will reject the nation-state in some distant national capital whether its Washington D.C., Ottawa or Mexico City.

  • Spook45 May 14, 2012, 11:01 pm

    There is no such thing as peak oil. Peak oilis propaganda that allows a artificial scarcity for profit. NAture provides as always. A-biotic oil is a well known and documented knowledge. The tapped out wells refill themselves over a few years. Oil wells set dormant controled by the companies to drive the price up and the excuses for not pursuing oil is a lie as well. Anyone that can pass a 5th grade science class can debunk Anthropogenic global warming. There is no lack of energy only a monopoly to control it for profit.

    • TiredOldGuy May 14, 2012, 11:16 pm

      It doesn’t really matter what the cause is of the fuel hikes, whether it is war, peak oil or corporate greed – we all pay the price.

      As for me, I’m going to continue using my bicycle. There has been a minor resurgence in the use of natural rubber (owing to the fact that it is an expensive material to ship) so I’m not too worried about the lack of fuel.

    • sam May 15, 2012, 12:40 pm

      then why haven’t oil production levels in the USA rebounded since we hit domestic peak oil in the mid-1970’s? it’s a simple question that you cannot answer.

      also, are you suggesting that there is infinite energy? do you own perpetual motion machines, as well?

      • Jason May 19, 2012, 10:42 am

        It’s an established fact that oil production fell off in the 1970’s because of tree hugger legislation, nothing else.

        These environmentalists are such hypocrites because they stopped their crusade within our borders & accepted the fact that other countries, with far less concern for the environment I might add, destroy the world.

  • Eric May 15, 2012, 5:18 am

    Companies are drilling (far) offshore because they aren’t permitted to drill where the oil is more accessible. This is because of state and federal bureaucracies, not because of supply issues.

    Fracking shows us that the DOOM aspect of Peak Oil is a misguided notion. Now, we can tap natural gas that was previously unavailable and unthinkable. Future technological advances will allow us to access oil and gas in areas that we currently can’t tap profitably.

    However, the oil supply is finite. As world demand exceeds supply, the price will increase such that old wells and difficult to access areas will become profitable and these areas will be tapped or re-tapped. People seeking out alternatives to oil will temper the price and make for a long decline.

    Bottom line, our oil supply will be more like a bungee cord rather than the brick wall.

    I’m much more concerned about the temporary interruptions in gasoline deliveries because of storms/sabotage, etc. than I am of a global Peak Oil doom.

  • mainerinexile May 15, 2012, 9:18 am

    peak oil is VASTLY overrated – there are KNOWN deposits of oil in the US that are more than what’s currently being drilled for in the rest of the world! and our govt does nothing, except “under-mine” (pun intended) our ability to get off foreign oil, while giving his buddies billions of OUR money… (also writing himself dictatorial powers that the Founders never intended for a president to have).. this is not going to end pretty…

  • sillyMe May 15, 2012, 11:30 am

    An auditor from the GAO testified before the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on the subject of energy. But instead of hearing about how horrible things are, she calmly delivered something of a bombshell.

    “The Green River Formation–an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming–contains the world’s largest deposits of oil shale,”Anu K. Mittal, the GAO’s director of natural resources and environment said in written testimony submitted to the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

    “USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions,” Mittal testified.

    “The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered,” Mittal told the subcommittee. “At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.”

    • BM May 18, 2012, 12:35 am

      Did these comments really get deleted?

      • Jason May 19, 2012, 10:16 am

        BM – I experienced the same thing. Quite disappointing ……

  • Aaron May 16, 2012, 9:11 am

    Get a horse!
    I am new to the prepped scene and blog pages, the one thing that amazes me is it seems that as Americans we have lost our ability to adapt. Our short history as a nation it has had a bunch of changes in it. I think we sell our selves short, we are survivors, we sacrifice when needed for the greater good. That is what is lost, our children don’t know how to sacrifice something. Let’s do the math and say 1% of society flips out that would leave about 250,000,000 Americans to adapt and change. We will survive its in our DNA, there will be hard times and changes of life style but don’t sell us short. We have the sense of community no one person will be great at everything or will one person survive on their own. Get to know your nieghbors and the older generation are the best, they know how to “survive ” with little and will bring balance to the disorder.

  • BillyB May 19, 2012, 8:41 am

    For informational purposes, hydrofracking technology has been in use for roughly SIXTY-FIVE (65) years.

    It has been OTHER innovations (horizontal drilling, etc.) that havehave increased the “reach” of oil and gas drilling in recent years.

  • BillyB May 19, 2012, 9:35 am

    There usually is a peak in the exploitation and production of any resource. However, this has nothing whatever to do with the actual quantity of the resource “in the ground”. Also, there are economic, governmental, and technological factors which can create new peaks, or make peak production more imminent.

    Lastly, for many (most?, all?) resources, the decline in annual production is nowhere near as steep as was the increase leading up to peak annual production. So if peak production is reached, say, 50 years after the first extraction/production/use; then total physical exhaustion of the resource will tend to take longer than 50 years (usually MUCH longer). And, in most cases, the slope of the curve to the right of the peak will decrease over time and flatten out.

    In the end, substitution of resources or technology becomes the only alternative. Neither the U.S. nor the globe is anywhere near reaching this point. In a free market, substitutes for specific purposes will be used as they become less expensive than the original resource for the original use. It’d be easier to determine when a peak (or a second or third peak) might come, and how steep the decline would be, if we actually operated in a free market.

    “Peak oil” — as the term is usually bandied about — is used by environmental-no-growth-Marxists as propaganda designed to mislead and frighten the public into actually demanding costlier energy. It goes hand in hand with global warming, which is used for the same purpose. Similarly, most modern environmental issues surrounding most resources and industries.

    These elements of propaganda will actually NOT result in a return to stone age technologies and societies. What it WILL do is be used to justify greater and greater control of industries, economies, and societies by the State. Until, that is, a totalitarian communism is achieved — at which point all the “old” “polluting” resources and industries will become “new” again, and pollution will no longer exist by virtue of everyone being TOLD that it no longer exists.

  • MEB May 21, 2012, 9:53 pm

    I think peak oil is a serious issue. The only people who will have it if it gets expensive enough is the military. If you want off-grid toys, now is the time to buy. You need to be prepared to defend them, though. Most of that gear is highly visible from a distance.
    Like Aaron and TiredOldGuy, it occurs to me that perhaps the best strategy is to reduce the need for the poisonous stuff. meb


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