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EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Discuss research and forecasts regarding hydrocarbon depletion.

Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby Pops » Sun 16 Feb 2014, 09:54:58

Our conundrum is trying to replace the irreplaceable. Nothing out there is a reasonable substitute for hydrocarbons - at least not at the rate we've become accustomed. 100:1 EROEI (or whatever) is just not attainable.

"The solution is dilution" the polluters always said. In this case I think "dilution" - as in lowering a concentration, is also the solution to PO. We should try to lower the concentration of the energy we require.

I've lived in several old houses, the original wiring of which is like layers of fossilized lifestyle. Originally there were a few ceiling lights and maybe an outlet or two. Then there were more outlets added, then one per room, then an outlet every 4 feet of wall - eventually resistance heating and finally a/c.

Eventually I think we'll retrace those stages and find out what is really important.
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-- Abraham Lincoln, Fragment on Government (July 1, 1854)
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby Quinny » Sun 16 Feb 2014, 12:13:41

I'm just refurbishing a house and am deliberately only providing one socket per bedroom. I've actually been told it's not up to standard as there should be more sockets per bedroom! Understand the reasoning, but am trying to discourage electricity usage by limiting outlets.

I'm retracing those stages partly by choice, partly no option!

You reminded me of this though.

Being Green

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.
The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."
The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment f or
future generations."
She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truely recycled.
But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.
Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.
But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.
We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn't have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby Strummer » Sun 16 Feb 2014, 13:09:29

The logic of that older woman in the story is wrong. Every young generation lives in a world that was created by the previous generation. The baby boomers did not create the nice green world that they grew up in, their parents did create it. And today's young people did not create all the consumerist bullshit that they are forced to live in, that's the legacy of the boomer generation.
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby Quinny » Sun 16 Feb 2014, 14:26:57

Seems to me energy consumption per capita has increased pretty significantly over the last few decades!

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EROEI: A Useful Measure Or A Distraction?

Unread postby AdamB » Wed 07 Mar 2018, 13:57:53


EROEI = Usable Acquired Energy / Energy Expended It seems so simple. If the amount of energy produced relative to the amount of energy utilized in producing that energy tends to decline, at some point as the ratio approaches 1.0 (or perhaps even becomes a fraction less than 1.0) there is little if any return on the energy invested and society will collapse. But is this concept really workable and useful? There are many issues related to how this ratio (sometimes abbreviated as EROI) is calculated. This affects both the numerator and the denominator of the ratio. The first problem is that this equation is usually interpreted as being the useful acquired energy divided by the useful energy expended. Energy expended is usually limited to something you would miss if it became unavailable. This means you do not count the energy from the


EROEI: A Useful Measure Or A Distraction?
Peak oil in 2020: And here is why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b3ttqYDwF0
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Thu 08 Mar 2018, 12:46:19

oil is produced by companies who drill oil wells. Such as the ones Rockman has worked for over the last 40 years. And not one of those companies based drilling decisions on the embedded energy in the drilling infrastructure. Nor was the EROEI of refining oil a factor in any decision to drill an oil well. IOW it's actually very easy to estimate the EROEI of any oil well that gets drilled: it's the energy directly used to drill a well (essentially the diesel that powers the drill rig) and the energy that well eventually produces. That's because it's that diesel cost that is A SMALL PORTION of the total cost to drill the well. The total cost vs anticipated VALUE in $'s (not in Btu) that drives the decision making process. A well with an EROEI of 30 will not be drilled if the cost of well exceeds the VALUE of the oil produced.
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LEI - greater energy availability = higher “quality of life.

Unread postby jawagord » Sun 11 Mar 2018, 11:04:39

An index like LEI that takes into account the quality, quantity and distribution of energy for society makes much more sense than fussing over EROI. In the end analysis it's about "quality of life".

We developed the Lambert Energy Index (LEI) in an attempt to account for the quality, quantity and distribution of energy delivered to a society more fully. LEI is a composite statistic combining Energy Return on Investment (for society), energy use per capita, and the Gini-Index of income distribution. The explicit purpose of LEI is to shift the focus of the analysis of the factors that determine human well-being from traditional economics to an energy-centered biophysical basis. LEI is not a substitute for existing economic metrics but a new tool for understanding the impact of energy on other social indicators. The LEI combines three factors:
-Energy efficiency of an economic/societal system: EROISOC
-Average energy use per capita: GJ per capita
-Income (Energy) Distribution: Gini-Index
Our results indicate that: energy surplus from fossil fuels and increases in the efficiency of energy use in an economic system (EROISOC) and especially their combination in LEI are correlated with various social indicators. For example, Canada has a moderate EROISOC (18:1) but an extremely high energy use per capita (311 GJ per capita) and a moderate Gini-index (32.5), resulting in a high LEI value (0.52, Fig. 9) and a high quality of life (e.g. HDI=0.81). Conversely a nation such as Denmark has a very high EROISOC (62:1) but a moderate energy use per capita (139 GJ per capita) and low Gini-index (24.7) and giving a similar LEI value (0.65, Fig. 9) and a high quality of life (e.g. HDI=0.8)....In severely impoverished countries (e.g. Pakistan and Nigeria) with low EROISOC values (5:1 and 4:1 respectively), low energy use per capita (20 and 29 GJ per capita respectively) and low overall energy availability (LEI=0.12 an 0.10 respectively, Fig. 9) and quality of life (e.g. HDI=0.336 and 0.246 respectively) are closely correlated. In other words, greater energy availability (high LEI values) appears to corresponds with higher “quality of life.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 1513006447
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Sun 11 Mar 2018, 11:46:30

Jaw - Very interesting...mucho thanks. Will study link when I have time. Seems like the critical issue will be the source/validity of the different metrics utilized.
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby lpetrich » Sat 23 Jun 2018, 16:05:38

DFID_Report1_2012_11_02 - DFID_Report1_2012_11_04-2.pdf -- EROI of Global Energy Resources Preliminary Status and Trends
By Jessica Lambert, Charles Hall, Steve Balogh, Alex Poisson, and Ajay Gupta
State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry

That article has an interesting list of EROEI values for various activities, calculated for conventional sweet crude oil. The upper ones are very speculative and hand-wavy, while the lower ones come from the professional literature.
  • Arts and Other : 14
  • Health Care : 12
  • Education : 9 - 10
  • Support Family ; 7 - 8
  • Grow Food : 5
  • Transportation : 3
  • Refine Oil : 1.2
  • Extract Oil : 1.1

I'll quote from that page:
The EROI for discovering oil in the US has decreased from more than 1000:1 in 1919 to 5:1 in the 2010s, and for production from about 30:1 in the 1970s to less than 10:1 today [72]. The global EROI for the production of oil and gas has declined from 30:1 in the 1995 to about 18:1 in 2006 [80]. It is difficult to establishing EROI values for natural gas alone as these values are usually aggregated in oil and gas statistics [70, 71].

Tar sands have an EROEI of about 5, and oil shales of about 1.3.

Coal has an EROEI that has varied from 80 to 30 (1980's) and back to 80 (1990's, from increasing strip mining).

Nuclear energy has an EROEI of about 5 to 15.

Of renewable sources, hydroelectric is the best, at around 75. Wind energy is good, at about 18.

Photovoltaic cells had 7 - 10 around when this article was published (2012 Nov 4), but this is a rapidly developing technology, and some recent PV-cell designs may be even better.

Corn ethanol has 0.8 - 1.6 (range of estimates), and biodiesel has 1.3.
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby Cottager » Tue 26 Jun 2018, 11:25:45

lpetrich wrote:DFID_Report1_2012_11_02 - DFID_Report1_2012_11_04-2.pdf -- EROI of Global Energy Resources Preliminary Status and Trends
By Jessica Lambert, Charles Hall, Steve Balogh, Alex Poisson, and Ajay Gupta
State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry

That article has an interesting list of EROEI values for various activities, calculated for conventional sweet crude oil. The upper ones are very speculative and hand-wavy, while the lower ones come from the professional literature.
  • Arts and Other : 14
  • Health Care : 12
  • Education : 9 - 10
  • Support Family ; 7 - 8
  • Grow Food : 5
  • Transportation : 3
  • Refine Oil : 1.2
  • Extract Oil : 1.1

I'll quote from that page:
The EROI for discovering oil in the US has decreased from more than 1000:1 in 1919 to 5:1 in the 2010s, and for production from about 30:1 in the 1970s to less than 10:1 today [72]. The global EROI for the production of oil and gas has declined from 30:1 in the 1995 to about 18:1 in 2006 [80]. It is difficult to establishing EROI values for natural gas alone as these values are usually aggregated in oil and gas statistics [70, 71].

Tar sands have an EROEI of about 5, and oil shales of about 1.3.

Coal has an EROEI that has varied from 80 to 30 (1980's) and back to 80 (1990's, from increasing strip mining).

Nuclear energy has an EROEI of about 5 to 15.

Of renewable sources, hydroelectric is the best, at around 75. Wind energy is good, at about 18.

Photovoltaic cells had 7 - 10 around when this article was published (2012 Nov 4), but this is a rapidly developing technology, and some recent PV-cell designs may be even better.

Corn ethanol has 0.8 - 1.6 (range of estimates), and biodiesel has 1.3.


I disagree. "Arts and other" existed in ancient and medieval worlds. There just didn't were those "artists-millionaires", so those will vanish. Everybody can paint a picture, make an artistic pottery. There was also healthcare in the past. Sure, tits'-buts' surgeons will disappear in the future, but basic healthcare is not that demanding. Education? It's easy. 1-2 primary school teachers/1000 people. Some high schools, very little colleges. Like middle ages. No college degree for everybody, for sure. Family can support themselves, grow food in sustainable way, even without plowing. It is possible. If nothing extremely humanistic (I mean bad, like nuclear war) happens - societies will settle down in some semi-medieval way. The worst period will be transitional - it is hard to imagine those hordes of "better life/happy motoring" people transitioning to a more sustainable way of life. From what I've seen and heard - everybody is trying to live/stay in towns despite anything. This is not good actually and authorities are also non-doomsters, nobody likes those guys (doomsters), let's meet our happy motoring future life. Everybody is comfortable sitting in high-speed train until the last second before, you know.
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Wed 27 Jun 2018, 13:42:08

Re: EROI - "Refine Oil : 1.2". LMFAO! Once again we hear from an "expert" who knows nothing about the oil refining process. Makes one wonder if any of their other "calculations" have any credibility at all.
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby lpetrich » Wed 27 Jun 2018, 19:53:19

These are estimates of the minimum EROI for some process to be economically viable.

Let's take extraction. It means that for every joule of energy used to extract oil, at least 1.1 joules of energy must be recovered. One joule of it will go into running the extraction, getting about 0.1 joules of usable energy. This means that one must pump 10 times more oil than what one might expect. So if most of the pumped oil goes into pumping it out, then one does not get much. Likewise for heating tar sands or oil shales.

The estimate from the literature presumably includes the cost of the extraction equipment, so selling one barrel for every 10 barrels extracted may be just enough to finance the extraction equipment.

This analysis also works for refining oil. It has a higher minimum EROI because one has to pay for both the extraction equipment and the refining equipment.
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby aspera » Wed 27 Jun 2018, 20:29:23

Rockman; Re: EROI - "Refine Oil : 1.2". LMFAO! Once again we hear from an "expert" who knows nothing about the oil refining process. Makes one wonder if any of their other "calculations" have any credibility at all.

Rock, help me here. Are you saying that the number should be much higher? If I read the Lambert et al. article correctly (I read through it twice), they are saying these are the minimum EROEI values needed for a social service within that class to proceed (i.e., if the system-level EROEI drops below 12, then kiss advanced healthcare good bye).

And I'm assuming that a 1:1.2 ratio for the oil refining process means that the process is efficient. But are you saying that the oil refining process requires a higher ratio to proceed? Do you have a rough estimate where it might fall?
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby lpetrich » Thu 28 Jun 2018, 02:15:06

aspera, you read correctly. As I'd calculated, for an EROI of 1.1, one gets only 1 barrel of oil for every 10 barrels that one extracts.

If one uses some energy source other than oil to extract and refine oil, one can get around that problem. But one will be using plenty of energy to extract that oil, and synfuels are likely more economically viable in this sort of case.

As to the higher items in the list, these are all consumption-related items. The lower the EROI, the more expensive the fuels will be, and the more of one's income they will consume to purchase them. That means that one will not be able to do as much.
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby marmico » Thu 28 Jun 2018, 07:38:06

The lower the EROI, the more expensive the fuels will be, and the more of one's income they will consume to purchase them.


BS. The EROI guys may be correct that EROI has declined from 30 in 1980 to 15 in 2018. It's a minor decline, 3.3 percentage points to be exact. So what. US energy spending relative to GDP was 13% in 1980 and 5.6% in 2016. 2016 was the lowest energy spending relative to the economy evah.

https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/mo ... ec1_17.pdf

The EROI guys don't get energy intensity. If it took 100 units of energy per $ of GDP in 1980 it takes 47 units of energy per $ of GDP in 2016.
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby Cog » Thu 28 Jun 2018, 08:13:50

The only thing that matters is that drilling and refining oil is profitable. It doesn't matter how much or little is used in the refining process or any other related process. Not sure why the ETP'ers still can't get that.

Its not like Rockman hasn't explained a hundred times that EROI is irrelevant to drilling decisions and always will be.
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby onlooker » Thu 28 Jun 2018, 09:12:05

"The only thing that matters is that drilling and refining oil is profitable


But that is part of the problem, it is not profitable any longer. Not when it is being so heavily subsidized. https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... n-per-year
And not when Shale/fracking is NOT a profitable business https://www.desmogblog.com/2018/05/04/w ... -resources
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Thu 28 Jun 2018, 11:54:03

“This means that one must pump 10 times more oil than what one might expect. So if most of the pumped oil goes into pumping it out, then one does not get much.” And once more we hear from someone with no first-hand knowledge of what it takes to pump oil out of the ground. Problem got their completely ridiculous information from someone else who is as ignorant of the process.

The Rockman has worked 43 years ACTUALLY PRODUCING oil and NG. So once a lesson in reality. The monthly cost to produce any well is the “LOE”…the Lease Operating Expense. This number is $ spent producing a well…any well. Typically posted monthly because many costs from third parties are billed monthly . This includes more then just the cost of any diesel or electricity. And includes much more then just the cost of the energy used. Such as the cost of any rented production equipment and all labor costs. The LOE also includes all energy cost to dispose of any produced salt water as well as the cost to separate the oil from the salt water produced with it. Water that is hauled away by trucks and water injected into disposal wells. With respect to disposal wells it includes the cost of the energy to run the transfer pumps to move the water from the producing well as well as the energy used to run the injection pumps.

All of the Rockman’s current oil wells produce a high % of salt water: 80% to 94%. IOW a shitload of water and a relatively small amount of oil. About 40 to 160 bopd. And all my wells have to be pumped: none flow naturally. Calculating the cost per bbl produced is simply math: the number of bbls produced that month divided by the LOE that month. And UNDERSTAND: the LOE is ALL THE COSTS…not just the cost of the energy. My LOE’s run between $5/bbl of oil to $10/bbl of oil. And that’s the COST of the energy…not the Btu’s. Trust me: no one is supplying me with energy at their costs…it includes some profit.

But, you say, that’s just the Rockman. But understand the average US oil well produces less then 20 bopd. And does so at a profit…otherwise they would not be produced. How low must their LOE be (let the Btu’s consumed) then for te Rockman that produces 2X to as much as 8X the amount of oil.

OK, if you think I’m wrong present your own DOCUMENTED FACTS.
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby aspera » Thu 28 Jun 2018, 13:55:02

The EROI guys don't get energy intensity. If it took 100 units of energy per $ of GDP in 1980 it takes 47 units of energy per $ of GDP in 2016.

But that sounds like a switch in focus. Don't get me wrong, if GDP collapses then you've got my attention. But what the numbers you quote mean is that, all else being held equal, the energy-to-GDP process has become more efficient. Or, the way in which GDP is created has changed somewhat between those two dates (e.g., a move from a manufacturing-based economy to more of a service-based economy which consumes fewer units of energy per unit of GDP). Or both (I vote for both).

What you quote is also about the conversion of energy to dollars. I'd thought one of the advantages of thinking within the EROEI framework was it stayed wholly within an energy-only logic. If I understand things, the EROEI guys seem concerned with where/how the "100 units" or "47 units" of energy are coming from and whether that production process has changed. That is, the dynamics affecting the input to the energy-to-GDP conversion process. They're saying nothing about the e-to-GDP conversion process itself. No?
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Re: EROI < 1:5 => collaps of modern civilisation!

Unread postby aspera » Thu 28 Jun 2018, 14:41:29

The Rockman has worked 43 years ACTUALLY PRODUCING oil and NG. So once [MORE] a lesson in reality.

Rockman I understand you and your perspective. I've read your posts intending to instruct on your perspective. I think that it's a testimony to your writing that I (and others) could replicated your instructions verbatim. We could post as "The Rockman" and no one would know the difference.

(A very minor point here, meant to help you to better convince others. When you write, OK, if you think I’m wrong present your own DOCUMENTED FACTS." you do understand that your text, no matter how well-written, repeated, and based on decades of personal experience, is a "documented facts" case of N=1. If you could get others outside this blog to support your statements, then N>1 and you'll be all them more able to educate/instruct/convince. But I'm sure you know that.)

I'll make two other very minor points:

(1) I and others have asked you specific questions in this blog several times to help develop a better understanding of your perspective, the EROEI notion, and the productions of oil/ng. In my case you've never replied, specifically. but you did reply with posts that dealt with tangential issues. I'm glad for the tangents but it does feel like you only want to engage on your terms and you sometimes seem to take offense when your replies aren't acknowledged as finally putting an issue to bed once and for all(i.e., "So once [MORE] a lesson in reality.").

(2) When I read the works of Viclav Smil, Heinberg, Lambert, Hall, et al. And I use Meadow's "Thinking in Systems" framework. All in an attempt to understand both the thermodynamic/energetics aspects of fossil fuels productions, and the economic aspects of the same. And then compare what I've read with what you and other have written here. I'm left feeling that we're drawing the system boundaries around very different parts and/or at very different scales. In some parts and in answering some sorts of questions, a simple cash-flow logic works fine, and has for a considerable time.

For other issues, the system is much larger and/or the questions are about a much larger scales (in time or space). For instance, in the latter issues we might be dealing with the creation of new national or international policies, altering the subsidies influencing decisions at much smaller scales, actively "nudging" consumption behaviors, etc. In such cases, the cash-flow logic may not be, alone, sufficient to provide insight. It's in these latter issues that I've found those people who use the EROEI framework to be offering as much insight as I get from your well written perspective.

I trust you'll agree that a plurality of viewpoints is always a better way to get at the truth.
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