Sugar Kyle has very generously allowed me to borrow her podium in order to talk to you about a proposed change for the Citadel release that I think is going to have very serious long-term consequences for all of New Eden.
Before I go into detail, a brief introduction. I imagine that most of you have no idea who I am, so: my main character in EVE is Jinrai Tremaine and my space-job is mining ice in hisec. I run one of the locust fleets you may occasionally hear solo miners complain about, as we strip ice anomalies bare before they get a chance to make much ISK. I’m actually not here to discuss my playstyle or why I do what I do, I only bring it up to establish my credentials - ice is a big deal for me and has been for several years, so I try and stay on top of upcoming changes that are likely to affect it, which in this case involves the upcoming Citadel release.
A few days ago, CCP published the long-awaited Structure Fitting Devblog which included, amongst other things, the reprocessing rates for the various sizes of Citadel in different areas of space. I’m actually not here to talk about those, either - the part I want to bring to your attention is actually near the end of that devblog, where Team Game of Drones mention adding in Strontium Clathrates (Stront for short) as an ingredient for regular fuel blocks, in order to ensure that there’s still demand for Stront in the distant future when Structures have wholly replaced POSes and there is no more stront timing for reinforced modes. They initially planned to require 400 Stront per 40 fuel blocks, which was later revised downwards to 200. Based on my knowledge of ice mining, that still seemed like an extremely high number, so I decided to look into the effects this new requirement would have on fuel production.
Fig 1: Refined ice products from each belt, assuming maximum local refining:
Nullsec (0.0 to -0.5)
Nullsec (-0.5 to -1.0)
As you can see from the table above, regardless of where exactly one happens to be mining, any type of ice produces significantly less Stront than it does any other ice product. This is an issue, because the proposed changes to fuel blocks will make Stront the second most numerous ingredient.
As a brief digression, here is how ice/ice product/fuel block production balances out currently:
- Highsec and Lowsec ice anomalies local production is limited by the available Liquid Ozone in their ice - they over-produce Racial Isotopes (Nitrogen, Helium, Hyrdogen and Oxygen) and Heavy Water
- Both types of Nullsec ice anomalies are the opposite - their production is limited by available Racial Isotopes and they over-produce both Liquid Ozone and Heavy Water
- Over-production fuels jump drives (isotopes), Jump Bridges and Beacons (Liquid Ozone) and Industrial Cores (Heavy Water) and is traded back and forth between highsec and nullsec to balance out supply.
- Heavy Water has low value due to being over-produced everywhere and having little demand outside fuel blocks.
The addition of Stront to fuel blocks changes that entire relationship. Because there’s so little Stront produced in any belt compared to any of the other resources, Stront will become a bottleneck to fuel block production in all areas of space. Every other ice product will be over-produced compared to Stront, much as heavy water is today, which will drastically lower their value at the same time that Strontium values shoot through the ceiling. There’s also no way to avoid this by cherry-picking only stront-heavy ice where it’s available; the only way to cycle ice anomalies and respawn the stront-heavy ices is to completely clear out the entire anomaly and wait 4 hours, which means over-production of other ice products will be built into efficient stront production.
That’s obviously bad news for everyone who mines ice in either highsec, lowsec or nullsec with poor truesec, as they’ll get a lot less stront per anom and a lot more low-value over-production materials. However the real danger is simply that there is not enough Stront production across New Eden as a whole to maintain the current supply of fuel blocks, let alone meet additional demand from the construction and operation of Citadels and their rigs and modules.
Fig 2: Comparative local fuel block production caps per anomaly
Null (0.0 to -0.5)
Null (-0.5 to -1.0)
Production change per anomaly
As you can see from this table, there’s going to be a massive reduction in fuel block production across the whole of New Eden as soon as the existing stockpiles of fuel blocks and strontium run out. If it helps to illustrate the extent of the difference: Currently, emptying a hisec anomaly would fuel a Large POS for 18 days. With the addition of a strontium requirement, that same anomaly would fuel a Large POS for 10 hours. Right now, emptying a deep nullsec anomaly would fuel that same POS for 5 months. With the stront requirement, that drops to a little over 1 month.
As it stands now, nullsec anomalies are likely significantly under-utilized, in contrast with hisec anomalies which tend to be heavily mined. However even assuming a significant shift to nullsec ice mining there’s still a very finite limit on how much can be produced per day - each anomaly takes time to be mined out and then requires 4 hours to respawn, making it effectively impossible to get more than 5 spawns per belt (some systems have multiple “belts” giving them 2 or 3 anomalies at a time) per day. With even the lowest truesec null systems facing nearly 80% less potential production than they currently have it doesn’t seem possible for them to pick up the slack that will be left by the almost complete removal of hisec ice as a viable fuel source.
This is going to hit closest to home for hisec-based ice miners like myself and those actively involved in running POSes, as well as everyone interested in setting up one of the new Citadels once they’ve launched, however it’s important to note that the knock-on effects will be felt by all of New Eden’s residents. Every unit of moongoo is extracted via POSes, large amounts of manufacturing in highsec and lowsec take place in POSes, ore compression and refining in high and lowsec take place in POSes, reactions that produce composites for tech 3 ships and turn gasses into boosters take place in POSes as do huge numbers of blueprint copy jobs. In all of these cases, the people running the POSes are going to look to pass on their increasing fuel costs to consumers further down the line, or else they’ll stop using POSes and pass on the costs that their POSes were saving them (NPC station 10% manufacturing taxes, for example) to their consumers. Either way, this will result in increased prices for most ships and items produced by players.
As a final note, all my figures for calculating the effects of these changes can be found in my Google Spreadsheet in case anyone wants to look at the numbers themselves, or double-check my calculations.