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By Robert Rapier on Nov 28, 2011 with 66 responses

Pipelines and Tar Sands: Cure the Disease Not the Symptoms

Not everyone has the time or inclination to read through a 4,000+ word article, but I felt like the complexity of the issues involved in the controversial Keystone XL pipeline warranted that. In this article I will summarize the key points of the arguments I made in the original, while highlighting where my views diverge from those of the protestors. If you want to see a more in-depth discussion of these issues, please refer to the original article: How I Would Decide the Keystone XL Pipeline Issue

Treating the Symptom Rather than the Disease

The first issue is to clarify what the pipeline argument is really about. This isn’t really about a pipeline. As one reader pointed out, this is about trying to force Canada to stop developing what is viewed by many as a dirty resource, and that we should “treat the disease.” The addiction metaphor is somewhat overused, but I believe there is a very relevant example that captures my view on the pipeline. If a person is addicted to a drug, you can treat the addiction, or you can try to eliminate the suppliers of the drug. In the U.S., we have conducted a very long war on drugs that has made the drug trade even more lucrative. Desperate people commit crimes to buy drugs they can’t afford, and drug traffickers commit violent crimes to ensure that those profits keep flowing. And we still have a drug problem.

The point is that as we cut off one supplier, another springs up. We have not cured the disease. However, if demand for drugs fell, the suppliers would go out of business. (It occurs to me that this example will not exactly endear me to oil producers). This is analogous to our dependence on oil. I think protestors who feel that stopping this pipeline will strike a blow for our oil dependence grossly underestimate the lengths that we will go to in order to acquire oil. Thus, I don’t believe stopping the pipeline addresses the root problem, and threatens to worsen some problems that protestors have largely ignored.

Ogallala Aquifier – Red Herring

As noted in the previous essay, I always viewed the issue of the potential for the pipeline to leak and contaminate the Ogallala aquifer as a red herring. Pipelines already crisscross the Ogallala, and farmers dump thousands of tons of herbicides, pesticide, and fertilizers on top of the aquifer every year.

Carbon Bomb is in Asia Pacific

I view the climate change argument of some protestors to be largely misleading. While it is true that development of the tar sands will only further increase global carbon dioxide emissions, I think the characterization of the pipeline as the “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet” is wrong. It conveys a false impression that snuffing out this fuse will then snuff out that carbon bomb. In fact, as I showed in the previous essay, the real carbon bomb is in Asia Pacific. Relative to the growing coal and oil consumption in the Asia Pacific region, the oil sands development is relatively minor. Thus, my argument here isn’t “Well, since they are burning a lot, we might as well burn a little” — it is rather to correct a misconception about growing global carbon emissions.

Some have mischaracterized my argument as “Since someone is going to burn the oil from the oil sands, it might as well be the U.S.” That’s not it either. It is “As long as we continue to demand oil, we are going to source our oil from somewhere. We should make sure it is from a stable supplier.” I have been crystal clear that I think we should do everything we can to address the demand side of the equation. Further, demand in the U.S. is declining (admittedly in part due to the economy). But only the most naive among us believes that modern society will be oil-free any time soon. We strive to use less, but if oil supplies fell off a cliff in the next few years, society would collapse. Imagine society with no oil, and you can clearly see that. Imagine society with too little oil too soon, and perhaps the potential implications aren’t fully appreciated.

My View on the Pipeline in a Nutshell

To conclude, it took me a while to even decide how I felt about the pipeline. As one poster noted following my initial essay, I am really laying out arguments against the protests rather than arguments that we need this pipeline. After thinking this over, that’s a fairly accurate assessment. My position isn’t “We really need this pipeline” but rather “What difference does it make?” Protestors thinks it makes a big difference whether it gets built, but I do not. I see a private company wanting to invest billions of dollars to build a pipeline, which will create jobs in a tough economic climate. I don’t think we will consume any more or any less oil because of the pipeline, and I think the arguments against the pipeline are exaggerated.

Cutting off a pipeline does nothing to address our demand for oil, and without addressing that we will simply source the oil from elsewhere (or it will still be transported from the oil sands in a less efficient manner). We will almost certainly source the oil from further afield (hence, more carbon emissions getting it to us) and it may come from places where oil extraction results in even greater environmental devastation, oppressed populations, and enriched dictators. Oil from unstable regions of the world will put our economies at much greater risk than if we source from a reliable supplier. If on the other hand we address the demand side, development of the oil sands will slow, and we may have a pipeline that is never needed for anything other than an insurance policy (or to displace other unstable suppliers). However, it will have resulted in a multibillion dollar investment in the U.S. by a private company that created jobs that were sorely needed.

This is my opinion based on how I think things will actually play out if the pipeline is or isn’t built. I think the oil will get to market regardless. I could be wrong. There are people that I respect a great deal who disagree. I simply make my best estimate and render an opinion. Then we discuss and debate and perhaps opinions are modified. I would hope those who hold a different opinion will also give some consideration to the possibility that stopping the pipeline will in no way diminish our appetite for oil, and that we will simply continue to source it from unstable regions of the world. Then perhaps we can focus more efforts on the demand side of the equation.

By Robert Rapier

Link to Original Article: Pipelines and Tar Sands: Cure the Disease Not the Symptoms

  1. By George Hart on November 28, 2011 at 6:11 am

    “If on the other hand we address the demand side . . .”

    Your emphasis that we cure the disease, not the symptoms, is exactly right.  But, as the proverb goes, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

    How do we address the demand side in a significant way?

    Finding the best leverage points to address the demand side is so difficult because it confronts how we live, all of us, day to day.  Eat, work, move about.

    Yikes.

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  2. By Alice on November 28, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Thank you for your thoughtful, reasonable article. Thank you for not joining in the exaggerations and cliche arguments. This type of article helps both sides engage in meaningful discussion as opposed to yelling across the divide at one another.

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  3. By Edward Kerr on November 28, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Bob:
    Your assessment of the situation regarding the Keystone Pipeline is about as spot on as any that I have read. The oil contained in those sand deposits will be used come hell or high water. (Want to make any bets as to whether or not President Obama will OK the pipeline if he is re-elected?) The can has been kicked down the road for political expedience.
    I agree that “addressing” the demand side of the equation is the proper course of action, but what does that mean? And, what exactly do you propose it is that we should do?
    Electric vehicles could be a part of the answer but we both know that cars with very limited range and usefulness cannot solve the problem. Short of someone inventing some technology that we can’t imagine at this time it occurs to me that we will need liquid fuels for most of our transportation needs long after we have consumed all of the “ancient sun light” available. Ships, trucks, trains and planes demand liquid fuels and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
    My suggestion for a permanent solution to the ‘reality of our needs vs a declining resource (in the face of increasing demand)’ is relatively simple in concept but will be difficult to institute.
    It’s a dual problem. Coal for electricity and oil for transportation.
    Coal: We simply can’t continue to waste all those precious carbon atoms to produce electricity when there are viable alternatives. The Sun sends us about 14TW of energy per day (about what the world consumes annually) so the problem isn’t one of energy per se but one of imagination. At some point, if we survive, we will need to utilize that solar energy exclusively (coal will be gone) so why aren’t we scaling up those technologies that will facilitate that change over? Oh, I forgot, all those trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuels are too ripe a fruit for us short sighted and greedy people to pass up.
    Oil for transportation. Biomass and the Sun again come to the, long term, rescue. I know that you personally have a dim view of oil from algae as not much of it has come online to date but I can see no other realistic option for liquid fuels. The main problem to date, as you know, has been the extraction issue. Apparently that has been solved and is ready to ramp up. http://www.originoil.com/ has a new patient (maybe pending I don’t know) using pulsed electromagnetic fields and PH modification of the substrate. This greatly reduces costs, headaches and the need for drying, chemicals and presses or expellers. The quality of oil from algae is excellent and we already have an infrastructure in place to easily process it.
    Do we have options? Sure! We can continue along our half hearted path and suffer the consequences that you so adroitly point out or we can get serious and head down the right path.
    That’s how I see it. What’s your take?
    Ed

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  4. By Wendell Mercantile on November 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    The quality of oil from algae is excellent and we already have an infrastructure in place to easily process it.

    Ed~

    Of course it is. That’s the same feedstock from which Mother Nature made oil — algae and phytoplankton. The only problem: It takes nature millions of years to do it using unlimited amounts of free heat and pressure, and to accelerate that process, means added energy someone must pay for.

    No one disputes the potential of man-assisted oil from algae — it’s just that we are still a long ways from where it can compete with the oil nature made for us from algae.

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  5. By Walt on November 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Ironic in some circles if one agrees that oil & gas production does not effect climate change policy.  While working in gas flaring reduction the past 6 years there is no doubt in my mind that global and growing gas flaring does not impact climate change…as most producers argue that the UN legislations limits (in some cases rejects) new technologies to convert gas-to-chemicals/fuels to reduce flaring.  While I have fought endlessely to get flare reduction projects through the system, it is clear that crisis management is more effective in driving policy than cooperation among environmentalists and producers.  Sensationalism and fear drives solutions…not technology and actual reductions…unless the reductions are based upon fewer drilling rigs in operation, less consumption due to higher gasoline prices, etc.

     

    The main petroleum congress conference is happening here (December 4-8):

     

    http://www.20wpc.com/

     

    While the main climate change conference is happening here (November 28-December 9):

     

    http://www.cop17-cmp7durban.com/

     

    Next year let’s see if they set the annual meetings with dates that don’t conflict with either conference.  Getting this list to the climate change conference would be a good start to help balance the conflict between global producers of oil & gas and environmental polcy.

     

    http://www.20wpc.com/doc/deleg…..s-list.pdf

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  6. By Andrew on November 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Seems like you are overlooking the real main point of the protests: to grow an effective movement politically capable of winning fights for the climate. Winning begets winning.

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  7. By Nichol on November 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    You might be right .. that the tar will get burnt, even without this pipeline, and it will not be direct apocalypse, but it will surely be bad. But the logic of activism is that you need to whip up some activity before anybody acknowledges the problem. The modified politics has now actually moved just that little bit in the direction of doing something about the disease.

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  8. By Optimist on November 28, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Spot on RR!

    Oh, I forgot, all those trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuels are too ripe a fruit for us short sighted and greedy people to pass up.

    Ah, yes, capitalism: the worst of all systems, except for the alternatives…

    Would it be greedy, or wise to develop affordable sources of energy?

    The Sun sends us about 14TW of energy per day…

    Oh, please graduate from King George’s units of measurement, will you? TW is a unit of power (as is hp, BTU/h, etc.). It includes units of time. Not the same as units of energy (J, BTU, BOE, etc.).

    The quality of oil from algae is excellent and we already have an infrastructure in place to easily process it. Do we have options?

    We have WAY better options than algae, mainly waste-to-energy. Algae, in current form, is only good for miniscule consumption, such as fishfood and other exotic uses.

    The only problem: It takes nature millions of years to do it using unlimited amounts of free heat and pressure, and to accelerate that process, means added energy someone must pay for.

    Yes, Wendell. How dare we imagine that we could ever improve on anything as sacred as Mother Nature…

    Seems like you are overlooking the real main point of the protests: to grow an effective movement politically capable of winning fights for the climate.

    Call postponing a win? Man, you are desparate…

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  9. By Wendell Mercantile on November 29, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Yes, Wendell. How dare we imagine that we could ever improve on anything as sacred as Mother Nature…

    Sure, we can and must imagine it. But the economic break-even point is no where yet close. With man-made oil from algae, someone has to pay for the energy Mother Nature provided free with her bounty of oil from algae. That should be intuitively obvious to all.

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  10. By perry1961 on November 29, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Does anyone else think it’s strange that we use 21% of the world’s crude oil, but only 14% of it’s coal? We import almost half that crude, while exporting more coal each year. The US has 30% of the world’s coal reserves. The technology is ready for CTL with CO2 sequestering. The fuels produced burn much cleaner. Maybe it’s time to approve some of these projects under review. At the same time, we could move more electric production to NG, wind, and solar. The air would be cleaner, and we’d cut fuel imports at the same time.

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  11. By Walt on November 29, 2011 at 10:42 am

     

    Moiety said:

    perry1961 said:

    Does anyone else think it’s strange that we use 21% of the world’s crude oil, but only 14% of it’s coal? We import almost half that crude, while exporting more coal each year. The US has 30% of the world’s coal reserves. The technology is ready for CTL with CO2 sequestering.


     

    It is debatable if carbon capture (CC) technologies are ready. Current indicators are that for a coal plant, approximately 30% of the energy produced by the plant is needed for the capture process. Even if that number were 10%, it would still be a significant cost increase. Vattenfall is still only at pilot scale on their CC projects and still have not be able to get permission for where to put the captured product.


     

    I believe Statoil is involved in one of the largest carbon capture projects and in speaking with them recently I don’t think anyone knows if it will work.  In their latest choosing of the short list of companies who will bid for final approval, it will be interesting to see it move forward.  CO2 recycling in marginal oil fields has worked wonderfully in the USA, but storing it for long periods seems an issue still unresolved.  Here is an article recently released on the project and selected technology vendors.

    http://www.carboncapturejourna…..NewsID=865

    “CCM is a very large industrial and technological development project,
    and a plant of similar size has never been built before,” said Kurt
    Georgsen, vice president in Renewable Energy and responsible for CCM.
    “For Statoil, it is very important that the system works as intended and
    does not represent any danger to people or the environment.”

     

     

     

     

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  12. By moiety on November 29, 2011 at 4:15 am

    perry1961 said:

    Does anyone else think it’s strange that we use 21% of the world’s crude oil, but only 14% of it’s coal? We import almost half that crude, while exporting more coal each year. The US has 30% of the world’s coal reserves. The technology is ready for CTL with CO2 sequestering.


     

    It is debatable if carbon capture (CC) technologies are ready. Current indicators are that for a coal plant, approximately 30% of the energy produced by the plant is needed for the capture process. Even if that number were 10%, it would still be a significant cost increase. Vattenfall is still only at pilot scale on their CC projects and still have not be able to get permission for where to put the captured product.

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  13. By Walt on November 29, 2011 at 11:07 am

     

    If the speech is recorded this would be the best opportunity to get the vision of how oil & gas companies will be able to work with the environmental community.  I do hope that CMIA (the undisputed mover and shaker in the sector) will publish the talk.

     

    The title of the event is what we need to hear…cracking the code!  Let’s get cracking.

    ————————–

    Cracking the code: Private sector solutions to facilitate effective global action on
    carbon emissions

    Thursday, 1 December 2011
    18.30 – 21:30 SAST
    Orange River Room, Durban Exhibition Centre

    At this side event, Rothschild Will set out a vision for the world achieving a cap
    on emissions, achieving least cost solutions, funding the Green Climate Fund and
    creating a new balance between demand for and supply of fossil fuels.

    Their presentation will be followed by a debate involving panel members including

    Trevor Manuel
    Minister in the Presidency, National Planning Commission, South Africa

    Gregory Andrews
    Assistant Secretary
    International Finance, Markets and Forests, Department of Climate Change and Energy
    Efficiency Government of Australia

    Lucille Sering
    Secretary of State
    Climate Change Commission
    Government of the Philippines

    Burhan Gafoor
    Chief Negotiator
    Government of Singapore

    Artur Runge-Metzger*
    Director for International and Climate Strategy, European Commission DG Climate Action

    Clifford Polycarp
    Senior Associate
    World Resources Institute

    Jayanthi Natarajan*
    Minister for the environment
    Government of India

    Event chair:
    Steven Gray
    Head of international and UN climate change policy, Climate Change Capital

    Chair, Financial Mechanisms and International Architecture, Climate Markets &
    Investment Association

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  14. By perry1961 on November 29, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Moiety and Walt,

    Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana seem perfect for carbon capture. Lots of empty reservoirs under caprock. There’s the added benefit of forcing remaining oil out of those reservoirs. Those states should also face little opposition to new refineries. From what I’ve read, carbon capture would add 5-10% to the overall cost of CTL. Still, it would be profitable with $75 oil. Moreso if a few million barrels of oil can be forced to the surface. The biggest obstacle is Capex. These plants are very expensive to build.

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  15. By Walt on November 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    perry1961 said:

    Moiety and Walt,

    Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana seem perfect for carbon capture. Lots of empty reservoirs under caprock. There’s the added benefit of forcing remaining oil out of those reservoirs. Those states should also face little opposition to new refineries. From what I’ve read, carbon capture would add 5-10% to the overall cost of CTL. Still, it would be profitable with $75 oil. Moreso if a few million barrels of oil can be forced to the surface. The biggest obstacle is Capex. These plants are very expensive to build.


     

    Carbon has real value for EOR.  However, in projects that I have worked on we use it for recycling through the reservoir where it’s volume grows while it brings up limited amounts of oil.  It is separated and then blended to be reinjected.  Like with gas injection, water flood, fire flood, etc. the efficiency is effective for EOR if the cost of the CO2 is not too high.  Several companies here in Michigan have talked about trucking the CO2 to their oil fields to try to pressure up and recycle, but they are large emitters and the costs are still a complexity.  I am not sure about the storage of CO2 in some of these fields.  We have evaluated taking our own small CO2 footprint from our GasTechno process and reinject since we are right near the gas flare/oil field.  Once the reservoir is pressured optimally, and the CO2 breaks through it and recycle begins we struggle to figure out what to do with excess CO2 from the plant operation.  Depending on scale, it does take a lot of CO2 initially, but then it at some point we don’t know where to go.  With natural gas injection, the associated gas is not at the same volume at the oil itself so the associated gas can be used for pressure management and does not often break through the reservoir like CO2 has done in some fields.

     

    Just some thoughts.

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  16. By Optimist on November 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    But the economic break-even point is no where yet close. With man-made oil from algae, someone has to pay for the energy Mother Nature provided free with her bounty of oil from algae.

    Sure Mother Nature gave us a running start. But to make oil-from-algae a reality IMHO, you need to face the following realities:
    1. Ocean-based algae is the only option that can cover enough area, without running out of water, to achieve a scale that would be noticeable. Systems based on see-through plastic bags are nice toys, no more. Maybe the first step is to figure out a way to harvest the dead-zone in the Gulf of Mexico of its algae. The environmental clean-up can be a nice side benefit.
    2. Failing the ability to develop an energy efficient way to harvest micro-algae, a macro-algae based system need to be considered. Those can be harvested using agricultural techniques, with minor modifications.
    3. Biodiesel is a fine fuel for the DIYer in his garage. But if you want to play in the big leagues, make hydrocarbons, or something superior.
    4. Related to 3: no system based on only using the lipid fraction is likely to succeed: healthy rapidly-growing algae just don’t convert enough sunlight into lipids. You need to harvest and convert every available carbon atom. That way you simply look for the fastest growing algae. Makes the economic goal simpler to persue.

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  17. By Optimist on November 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Does anyone else think it’s strange that we use 21% of the world’s crude oil, but only 14% of it’s coal? We import almost half that crude, while exporting more coal each year. The US has 30% of the world’s coal reserves. The technology is ready for CTL with CO2 sequestering. The fuels produced burn much cleaner. Maybe it’s time to approve some of these projects under review. At the same time, we could move more electric production to NG, wind, and solar. The air would be cleaner, and we’d cut fuel imports at the same time.

    Now it gets interesting: there is a whole debate to be had over this question: Which is more important: secure fuels or cheap fuels? So far, every president since Nixon gave nice lip service to “energy independence,” but ultimately chose cheap over secure. The current public frame of mind (anything more than $1/gal is the result of a sinister conspiracy by the dark forces of Big Oil) does not exactly help to get a sensible debate going.

    At current prices, you’d have to figure that NG -> liquid fuels has to be a sure winner. Pity the Obama administration has painted itself into a corner with the non-stop verbal diarrhea over green jobs. Maybe they will mature some during the second term.

    Perry, would you be in favor of government subsidies for CTL? GTL? Going to Big Oil? Good luck with getting that past the electorate.

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  18. By Edward Kerr on November 29, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Quick reply to Optimist and Wendell:
    Wendell, I’m not sure what energy it is that you think must be added to algal oil to make it equal to fossil oil (which as you note is primarily algal oil). Once produced by by algae the oil is the same.

    Optimist, greed vs wise- is it wise to deplete a resource that has alternatives when that resource also has better uses than burning it?
    You assume that my use of the word greed is an indictment of capitalism?! Well it is: though I agree that it is far better than many alternatives and that producers should be properly compensated, any financial system that puts money before people and allows the type of “melt down” that we are suffering from today does NOT get my stamp of approval. Tyranny from a dictator or a Bank or an elected government? What’s the difference???

    TW: Sorry to offend your educated sensibilities with such a short cut.
    1 terawatt = 56 869 027 140 British thermal units per minute
    1 terawatt = 947 817 119 british thermal units per second
    or maybe you like HP
    1 TW = 1 341 022 090 HP
    1TWh will provide 14,100 KWh/annum to 70,000 households..
    The point is that it’s a crap load of energy and if we harness only a small portion of that energy we will be able to transition to non fossil energy and SAVE all those precious CARBON atoms for wiser uses.
    With the Sun sending us 23,000TWy/year and 28TWy demand forecast for the year2050, I don’t see us as having an energy problem as much as a lack of imagination.
    Ed

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  19. By perry1961 on November 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    “Perry, would you be in favor of government subsidies for CTL? GTL? Going to Big Oil? Good luck with getting that past the electorate.”

    Optimist, I would certainly favor loan guarantees of the type Solyndra took advantage of. CTL and GTL are proven technologies. Add carbon capture and the claim can be made that the resulting fuels do less harm to the environment than than any viable biofuel. There’s a video or two on the web of a proponent drinking some diesel produced by CTL. I don’t think Big Oil would want or need those loan guarantees. They have the cash on hand to build these facilities. It’s the smaller players who need a leg up.

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  20. By Walt on November 29, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    perry1961 said:

    “Perry, would you be in favor of government subsidies for CTL? GTL? Going to Big Oil? Good luck with getting that past the electorate.”

    Optimist, I would certainly favor loan guarantees of the type Solyndra took advantage of. CTL and GTL are proven technologies. Add carbon capture and the claim can be made that the resulting fuels do less harm to the environment than than any viable biofuel. There’s a video or two on the web of a proponent drinking some diesel produced by CTL. I don’t think Big Oil would want or need those loan guarantees. They have the cash on hand to build these facilities. It’s the smaller players who need a leg up.


     

    I would rather see an incentive as RR promoted previously that would give a credit or subsidy based upon actual barrels produced.  I looked at this with our own process and the elimination of loan interest is key to reduced OPEX.  The loan guarantee is great for the lender, but it really puts a strain on the opex of the operator/borrower.  I would eliminate the loan guarantees as it can set-up a company for failure as equity wants those guarantees especially if they give equity in the form of debt.

     

    The better solution is to give some sort of tax credit (like the Section 29 tax credit) or some sort of rebate on fuels produced. 

    http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/servic…../fuel.html

    http://www.ipaa.org/issues/fac…..Credit.pdf

     

    This creates a market for the tax credits produced where operates can sell them to those who need them, and also allows technology to scale down smaller which can be financed with 100% equity or even against off-take agreements without debt.  With a actual producers credit, it gives lots of incentive to produce more barrels and reduce the cost of fuel to scale down with less risk and a broader range of opportunities to get permitted.  Smaller scale distributed generation works in power projects and could work in fuels with incentives based on barrels produced.

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  21. By moiety on November 29, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    perry1961 said:

    Moiety and Walt,

    Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana seem perfect for carbon capture. Lots of empty reservoirs under caprock. There’s the added benefit of forcing remaining oil out of those reservoirs. Those states should also face little opposition to new refineries. From what I’ve read, carbon capture would add 5-10% to the overall cost of CTL. Still, it would be profitable with $75 oil. Moreso if a few million barrels of oil can be forced to the surface. The biggest obstacle is Capex. These plants are very expensive to build.


     

    THat could be the case and if so, viability is not so much of an issue. I am currently looking as CCD (excuse me but I use the term disposal instead of storage as we are unlikely to recover the CO2 and do not manage the resevoirs characteristics) in steel and there as the CO2 coming at the back end of the furnaces, it can be even cheaper.

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  22. By Walt on November 30, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Walt said:

    Ironic in some circles if one agrees that oil & gas production does not effect climate change policy.  While working in gas flaring reduction the past 6 years there is no doubt in my mind that global and growing gas flaring does not impact climate change…as most producers argue that the UN legislations limits (in some cases rejects) new technologies to convert gas-to-chemicals/fuels to reduce flaring.  While I have fought endlessely to get flare reduction projects through the system, it is clear that crisis management is more effective in driving policy than cooperation among environmentalists and producers.  Sensationalism and fear drives solutions…not technology and actual reductions…unless the reductions are based upon fewer drilling rigs in operation, less consumption due to higher gasoline prices, etc.

     

    The main petroleum congress conference is happening here (December 4-8):

     

    http://www.20wpc.com/

     

    While the main climate change conference is happening here (November 28-December 9):

     

    http://www.cop17-cmp7durban.com/

     

    Next year let’s see if they set the annual meetings with dates that don’t conflict with either conference.  Getting this list to the climate change conference would be a good start to help balance the conflict between global producers of oil & gas and environmental polcy.

     

    http://www.20wpc.com/doc/deleg…..s-list.pdf


     

    Here we go…it looks like Climate Change will go into the heart of gas flaring and oil & gas production.  The game changer?

     

    ——————-

    Qatar, the world’s biggest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide, will host the 2012 round of UN talks tasked with beating back the mounting threat of global warming, the UN’s top climate official said Tuesday.

    http://news.yahoo.com/un-clima…..18833.html

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  23. By rrapier on November 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Walt, I was e-mailed a press release yesterday from GE and immediately thought about you:

    http://www.gereports.com/fire-…..ectricity/

    Fire Power: GE Technology Turns Gas Flares Into Electricity

    Ridley Scott’s classic dystopian film Blade Runner famously opens on
    the skyline of Los Angeles in 2019, punctuated by a forest of hulking
    stacks belching fiery gas flares into the sky. Today, even the city’s
    biggest detractors would agree that Scott’s vision of the city will not
    come to pass. But the gas flares are a real global threat, wasting
    massive amounts of energy and pumping millions of tons of greenhouse
    gasses into the atmosphere every year.

    Drilling for oil releases gas and oil producers – particularly those
    in Russia, the Middle East and Africa – flare it off when there is no
    infrastructure to capture and sell it. According to a GE study published
    earlier this year, approximately 150 billion cubic meters of natural
    gas are wasted each year globally, generating some 400 million metric
    tons of CO2 emissions. This is roughly equivalent to all the gas used by
    U.S. households per year, or 23 percent of the total U.S. natural gas
    consumption.

    The climate impact of the flares is the same as the annual emissions
    from 77 million cars, or 34 percent of the U.S. car fleet. If converted
    to carbon credits at $15 per metric ton, the emissions would be worth $6
    billion.

    But there is an upside. Billions of dollars in wasted natural gas
    could be used to generate reliable, affordable electricity and yield
    billions more per year in increased global economic output.

    GE engineers have already developed ways to capture this waste and
    turn it into clean power. “The technology to address the problem exists
    today and the policy reforms required are largely understood,” wrote
    Michael Farina of GE Energy, the author of the study.

    For example, GE just announced a project to turn flare gas into clean
    energy in Nizhnevartovsk, in central Russia. The project will harvest
    natural gas from an oil processing plant that would be otherwise flared.
    The captured gas will fuel a GE Frame 9FA heavy duty gas turbine, which
    will power a GE steam turbine and associated generators to produce 400
    megawatts of electricity.

    Russia is a natural market for GE’s flare gas technology. The Russian
    government has indicated that it would start enforcing stiff gas
    flaring regulations. According a presidential decree, oil companies must
    utilize 95 percent of the natural gas they produce or face stiff
    penalties. The Reuters news agency quoted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
    as saying that “oil companies that do not meet this requirement will pay
    huge fines.”

    GE is also supplying Russia with 12 Jenbacher gas engines that will
    gerenate power from gas that used to be flared at an oil and gas
    production site in Western Siberia. Elsewhere, GE built a power plant
    using waste gas in Argentina, and plans for a power facility in Nigeria
    are under way.

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  24. By Benny BND Cole on November 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Good post. I do not understand the furor over the pipeline–although TransCanada is going to use eminent domain to seize property rights, if owners do not voluntarily sell those rights. So, the right-wingers who scream about eminent domain are suddenly silent when it cuts across their grain.
    Really, for profit, TransCanada can ramrod across private property without owner’s permission?

    If you want to lower fossil fuel consumption, then tax it. In the USA that is impossible as each state has two Senators, and rural states do not want gasoline taxes. In fact, they want to be subsidized to produce ethanol.

    Onwards!

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  25. By perry1961 on November 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Iraq flares 70% of its natural gas, and is chronically short of electricity. That G.E. turbine sounds like a winner for them. And let’s not forget Iran, which has gigantic amounts of natural gas, yet claims it needs nuclear power for electricity.

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  26. By Walt on November 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm

     

    Alternative routes are not looking very viable either:

     

    ——————–

    OTTAWA - Environmental groups attacked a proposed pipeline from Canada’s
    oil sands to the Pacific coast on Tuesday, saying it would attract
    tanker shipping and risk oil spills along a pristine coastline.

    A report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pembina Institute
    and the Living Oceans Society said the project posed risks to
    communities, salmon-bearing rivers, and coastal ecosystems, including
    the habitat of a rare white bear.

    “The Northern Gateway pipeline is not worth the risk for the
    communities, rivers and Pacific coastline of British Columbia,” said
    Nathan Lemphers, a policy analyst with the Pembina Institute.

    The pipeline, proposed by Canadian company Enbridge, would transport oil
    from Alberta’s tar sands through nearly 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) of
    rugged mountain landscapes to Kitimat on British Columbia’s northern
    coast, for eventual shipping to Asia.

    Up to 220 supertankers each year would sip from it, the report estimated.

    “History has shown that oil tankers come with oil spills. It is not a
    question of if, but when, a spill will happen,” said Katie Terhune of
    the Living Oceans Society.

    Read more: http://www.globalenergywatch.c…..z1fDHubhEy

     

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  27. By rate-crimes on November 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    “Then perhaps we can focus more efforts on the demand side of the equation.” – Robert Rapier

    The sequence you propose is dangerously inverted.  We should first diminish wasteful demand in every way possible: including constraining supply; especially, by imposing constraints where we can most easily do so.  Abandoning the folly of the XL pipeline is an excellent first action, and could be the beginning of a habit of avoiding the damaging extraction of limited resources.  The alternative is to take another easy step along the familiar but increasingly uncomfortable path through the widening pitfalls of unsustainable consumption.

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  28. By moiety on November 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    RC

     

    An excellent first action would be reducing the amount we drive and being more efficient at doing it RC. ‘Abandoning’ keystone (which has only been deferred BTW) does not mean that the products will not be used. It probably means that these products will be transported in a less efficient manner. This is why I made the analogy Robert mentioned.

     

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  29. By rate-crimes on November 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    “An excellent first action would be reducing the amount we drive and being more efficient at doing it RC.” – Moieity

    Yes, I’ve already addressed this point in the broader context.  However, in the immediate debate regarding the XL pipeline, abandoning the pipeline could be the first step in a new trend of not building pipelines.

    “‘Abandoning’ keystone (which has only been deferred BTW) does not mean that the products will not be used.” – Moiety

    Robert has already made this point repeatedly.  I agree that consumption is likely to continue unabated, in any event.  However, support for rushing to install another pipeline is antithetical to calls for future demand reductions.

    “It probably means that these products will be transported in a less efficient manner.” – Moiety

    Yet another point that is central to Robert’s argument.  This point is a red herring; much like the two-year conscription of a legion of excavators and welders argument.  Much greater good could come from more efficient consumption inspired by steadily rising costs.  If nothing else, we should be training people to help others to conserve energy, not to dig ditches.  The pipeline-free path leads to innovation; the pipeline represents the ’BAU dead end’.

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  30. By biocrude on November 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    RR,

     

    Great essay and I think you outlined your reasons clearly, however difficult there were to arrive at.  I have a few thoughts about the Keystone XL:

    Polls have shown that Americans want clean energy, they just don’t want to pay more for it, or have it change their luxurious way of life.  Out here in California, I call it the Suburban/Suburban model.  Everyone drives a Suburban and lives in the suburbs.  Ridiculous…  As highlighted in a previous RR post, the Germans are on their way towards clean energy as they are trying to abandon their nuclear facilities.  The Germans on the other hand, have taken responsibility for their actions (don’t want nukes) and are willing to pay more for cleaner energy.  Hopefully we don’t wait to see what happens in Germany, and hopefully the Germans don’t go build a bunch of coal power plants to supplement the lost nuclear power.  

    Instead of Obama postponing his approval of the Keystone XL (No one really thinks he isn’t going to, right?)  He had a fantastic opportunity to make a compromise with both sides of the aisle. Postponing it until after the 2012 election was a chickenshit move.  What he could have done, was say: “Okay, I know I am going to offend a lot of my environmental constituents by approving the XL pipeline.  However, as the US uses 19.5 mmbd of oil, and we only produce about 5mmbd, we are definitely going to need this oil for the foreseeable future.  So, even though I am going to approve this pipeline, I am also going to help the US move away from petroleum, and we are going to accomplish that via an increased tax on gasoline and diesel that will go directly into petroleum alternatives, mainly in the transportation sector.”  

    At 150 billion gallons a year of gasoline, a $.01/gallon tax on gasoline would generate $1.5 billion annually.  Hell, make it a nickel a gallon!  

    The heart of the matter that people/protestors/Rate Crimes don’t seem to be able to grasp is how much petroleum we use in the US, and that 96% of our transportation sector is absolutely dependent on petroleum.  Ethanol?  Great, but even at 14 billion gallons/yr, that’s still only about 10% of our total usage, and nothing else even comes close.  Biodiesel just announced that they produced the most biodiesel in the US ever this year, 800 million gallons, and still counting through December.  Fantastic, at 55 billion gallons of diesel a year, that is a whopping 1.4%. Furthermore, though tar sands petroleum is essentially immature oil, and incredibly taxing on the environment and air quality, at least it is semi local.  It is a hell of a lot closer than the Middle East, and it would be dependable and more stable.  Look at this picture of this NATO convoy in Pakistan this August and lets compare tar sands to that petroleum on a life cycle basis:

    http://photos.denverpost.com/m…..kistan/#12

    Also, you have got to love the irony of these protestors outside the White House with a giant plastic oil pipeline that is made out of petroleum!

    http://www.washingtontimes.com…..ntil-2013/

    Reminds of when the Occupy Oakland protestors recently were given $20k in online donations and then opened an account at Wells Fargo. 

    http://www.infowars.com/occupy…..its-20000/

    (Apologies in advance for the links and not posting photos, I couldn’t figure out the photo uploader).   

     

     

     

     

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  31. By rate-crimes on November 30, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    “The heart of the matter that people/protestors/Rate Crimes don’t seem to be able to grasp is how much petroleum we use in the US, and that 96% of our transportation sector is absolutely dependent on petroleum.” – Biocrud

    Because the rate of consumption and the dependence on petroleum of our excessively inefficient transportation sector is so easy to comprehend, the conclusion that rapid and profound change must occur is impossible to deny.  We should not give the junky another dirty, 30-inch diameter needle.  Instead we should help the junky to get clean and to stay clean.

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  32. By rrapier on November 30, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Biocrude said:

     What he could have done, was say: “Okay, I know I am going to offend a lot of my environmental constituents by approving the XL pipeline.  However, as the US uses 19.5 mmbd of oil, and we only produce about 5mmbd, we are definitely going to need this oil for the foreseeable future.  So, even though I am going to approve this pipeline, I am also going to help the US move away from petroleum, and we are going to accomplish that via an increased tax on gasoline and diesel that will go directly into petroleum alternatives, mainly in the transportation sector.”  


     

    Yep, that would have been a great move on his part. Use the situation to make some moves that minimize our need for oil. That would have been a bold move.

    RR

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  33. By rate-crimes on December 1, 2011 at 8:27 am

    “we are going to accomplish that via an increased tax on gasoline and diesel that will go directly into petroleum alternatives,” – Biorude

    Yep, that would have been a great move on his part. Use the situation to make some moves that minimize our need for oil. That would have been a bold move. – RR

    Agreed, bold move.  Yet, ineffective until we reshape our built environment, restructure our transportation system, and adjust our lifestyles.  The underlying inefficiencies of the system must be removed before any subsidy scheme can be truly effective.

    [link]      
  34. By Freude Bud on December 1, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I agree with most of your view on the Keystone debate, but one factoid recently gave me some pause:  Although it is true that there are pipelines criss-crossing Nebraska and the Ogalla Aquifer, I am unclear on what percentage are underground, and what percentage is in the water table.  Apparently TransCanada was planning in one farmer’s instance to place the pipeline 4 feet underground, which according to him, was in his water table.  That sounds rather risky from the farmer’s perspective–I could see why that would give him pause.  The fact that the company then threatened him with eminent domain when he balked seems like awfully bad public affairs management.

     

    The notion that the President would be “brave” by giving the permit AND raising taxes on gasoline and diesel in the middle of an economic crisis seems just a tad odd to me.  Gasoline and diesel costs represent a considerable portion of household consumption, which folks hope to undergird, not undermine–insofar as they want the economy to recover, that is.  Of course someone in the GOP might moot the notion that that would be “brave,” but you can be sure that even they’d never make such a boneheaded political mistake themselves.

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  35. By rate-crimes on December 1, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    “in the middle of an economic crisis” – Freude Bud

    Perhaps, you meant to say, “in the midst”?  To conceive of the current “economic crisis” as a circumscribed event in which we now find ourselves at the nadir, and not as a sea change is risky risk analysis, at best.  The goal should be to dramatically reduce complexity, not to add yet another stream of gasoline to the fire.

     

    [link]      
  36. By moiety on December 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Rate Crimes said:

    “The heart of the matter that people/protestors/Rate Crimes don’t seem to be able to grasp is how much petroleum we use in the US, and that 96% of our transportation sector is absolutely dependent on petroleum.” – Biocrud

    Because the rate of consumption and the dependence on petroleum of our excessively inefficient transportation sector is so easy to comprehend, the conclusion that rapid and profound change must occur is impossible to deny.  We should not give the junky another dirty, 30-inch diameter needle.  Instead we should help the junky to get clean and to stay clean.


     

    You analogy does not work. To get a junkie off you use progressive but subtle withdrawal. Taking their needles away will mostly cause them to repeat offend or even die. The fact is most people don’t care for being efficient as evident by continued expenditure on large screens and smart phones etc. Going cold turkey as your analogy suggests would have these people up in arms. My suggestion could potentially soften the blow and given the extra time, make them realise to change. Going cold turkey on a particular power source is in play in Germany. They have gone from an energy exporter to an importer and are importing coal, gas and nuclear to hold the bridge above the water underneath it.

    [link]      
  37. By rate-crimes on December 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    “Taking their needles away will mostly cause them to repeat offend or even die.” – Moiety

    You overextend the analogy:  I made no proposal for “taking their needles away”.  In fact, I am proposing precisely what you claim,

    “To get a junkie off you use progressive but subtle withdrawal.” -Moiety

     

     ”The fact is most people don’t care for being efficient” – Moiety

    Agreed.  This is precisely why effort should be made to not only wean them, but to help them to care.

    “Going cold turkey as your analogy suggests” – Moiety

    Sorry, friend, but that’s your own overextension of an analogy.  Please don’t attribute such foolishness to me.

    “They have gone from an energy exporter to an importer and are importing coal, gas and nuclear to hold the bridge above the water underneath it.” – Moiety

    The European energy market is more complex than is the understanding you express.  Being a net importer may prove to be Germany’s best option in the long run; even if a consistent, long-term plan is ephemeral at its genesis.

    [link]      
  38. By biocrude on December 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    @ Rate Crimes who said:

    “We should not give the junky another dirty, 30-inch diameter needle.  Instead we should help the junky to get clean and to stay clean.”  

    What is your plan or recommendation?  

    @ Freude Bud who said:

    “The notion that the President would be “brave” by giving the permit AND raising taxes on gasoline and diesel in the middle of an economic crisis seems just a tad odd to me.  Gasoline and diesel costs represent a considerable portion of household consumption, which folks hope to undergird, not undermine–insofar as they want the economy to recover, that is.  Of course someone in the GOP might moot the notion that that would be “brave,” but you can be sure that even they’d never make such a boneheaded political mistake themselves.”

    As RR has pointed out several times before in earlier posts, as soon as we start to make some headway in terms of economic recovery, we use more oil, which in turn drives the price up, which slows the recovery because we are so dependent on oil… It’s a Catch-22, which is why it is imperitive to do whatever we can to diversify our transportation sector, away from petroleum.  The low hanging fruit and easily implementable efficiencies are endless right now.  

     

    [link]      
  39. By rate-crimes on December 3, 2011 at 12:32 am

    “What is your plan or recommendation?” – Biocrud

    Plans and/or recommendations for whom?  I have personal actions that I would recommend to anyone willing to adopt them.  They are both personally rewarding and consistent with the ethic of lowering consumption.

    I would also recommend that anyone promoting yet another pipeline be immediately shackled alone to an oar on a trireme for the remainder of their short, miserable life.  Ramming speed!!!!

    [link]      
  40. By paul-n on December 4, 2011 at 5:48 am

    So, RC, if the pipeline delay was such a success, are you then going to suggest that the protesters turn their attention to the crude carriers that import 10x as much oil, every day, as the pipeline does, and from some of the worst parts of the world?

     

    Canada will build pipelines to the west and east coasts, and the oil sands develoipment will pretty much continue unabated, so this won’t make any difference on the world stage.

     

    For the US, the pipeline or not won’t make a whit of differrence to the SUV driving public.  The only thing that will work there is price increase and/or taxes, and it looks like the gov will just wait for price increases.

     

    At which time they may well bow to pressure to reduce fuel taxes!

     

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  41. By rate-crimes on December 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Paul N, what is your argument?  All you do is list dismal predictions.  Who are you attempting to frighten?  For what purpose?

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  42. By paul-n on December 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    My argument is this;

    For those that campaigned against it on the basis of GHG, or “dirty oil” etc, it won;t make any material difference to production from the oilsands.  

    Neither will it make any material difference to oil use in the US, either short or long term.

    The only difference is that, when Canada starts sending it to the E or W coast, the US will have to buy that shortfall on the world market, at the world price – not the WTI based price they are currently paying for Cdn oil.  This will cost the US about $5bn a year on extra oil imports.

    So how, exactly, have the pipeline opponents really done their country and people a service?

    [link]      
  43. By Freude Bud on December 4, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Rate Crimes said:

    “in the middle of an economic crisis” – Freude Bud

    Perhaps, you meant to say, “in the midst”?  To conceive of the current “economic crisis” as a circumscribed event in which we now find ourselves at the nadir, and not as a sea change is risky risk analysis, at best.  The goal should be to dramatically reduce complexity, not to add yet another stream of gasoline to the fire.

     


     

    Yes, I surely wasn’t stating that we were at the precise midpoint, nor at the nadir, of the current economic crisis–”the midst” is a more accurate way of saying what I meant to say, though I suspect few, if any, thought I meant the precise midpoint, or nadir, by “middle”.

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  44. By rate-crimes on December 5, 2011 at 9:30 am

    “This will cost the US about $5bn a year on extra oil imports.” – Paul N

    Excellent.  Then, perhaps, the waste will be addressed, we will develop a more effcient economy, and permanently eliminate your predicted extra costs.

    “So how, exactly, have the pipeline opponents really done their country and people a service?” – Paul N

    Even if your and my conjectures fail to materialize, at least, for a moment, the folly of developing the tar sands and building more pipelines is being questioned.

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  45. By paul-n on December 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Well, I admire your optimism, but I don;t think the waste will be addressed at all.  The waste/ineffcient use is the real problem, but I can’t see any real work being done on it – lots of “feelgood” stuff, but not much substance.

    The only way it will be addressed is by further economic squeezing of the US.  Having people unemployed does reduce oil usage, but that is far from being the best way.

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  46. By biocrude on December 5, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Rate Crimes said:

    However, I have used a bike for tens of thousands of miles over the past decade, lived well without an automobile for much of that time, have driven a Hybrid since 2000 when I have needed a car, avoid air travel, instead use rail transportation for long journeys, grow a good portion of my own food, capture water, and follow a number of other such practices.  I’m doing my part to delay new pipelines, even if it is not enough.  

    Here is the problem, I see petroleum in everything you described above.  The diesel in the train, the production and shipping of your bicycle, the gasoline in the hybrid, the production of the hybrid battery, the iPhone/iMac that I’m sure you teleconference with; in fact, all it really tells me is you live a luxurious lifestyle which affords you the eco-pleasures you sanctimoniously brag about.  

    Oil is ingrained in everything we do and entrenched within the supply chain of everything we consume. Unfortunately, worldwide demand for oil will increase for several decades.  As humans, we will continue to evolve and develop better technology to move ourselves and information faster.  We are not going to go backwards or de-evolve from the comforts we have today.  Ie, no one is going to go via boat from Europe to get to the US.  Therefore, I also believe it is in our best interest to secure the Canadian tar sands oil for our own use.  Think about if we could reduce our US oil imports to only the Keystone XL pipeline?  As ridiculous as that sounds, “reducing our imports to only Keystone XL” should be a national goal.

    It must be a national mission to enhance efficiency and sustainability through all aspects of American life.  We must collectively reduce the amount of oil and energy we consume on a daily basis.  There is low hanging fruit all around us, we just need to think a bit, and educate a lot.  Use less electricity in office buildings, reduce petroleum use in commuting through teleconference and carpooling.  Increase the gas tax immediately and put that money into mass transit and renewable energy.  Bicycling could have a huge impact.  Imagine if some obese people starting bicycling and then lost weight, and didn’t need to drive to the doctor to get drugs because they weren’t getting exercise … 

    I think we are on the verge of a great awakening in the USA about how to get healthy, reduce consumption and respect energy.  It is going to be tough though, and one only needs to watch the Kardashian’s to know what we are up against.

     

     

     

     

     

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  47. By paul-n on December 5, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Biocrude, 

     

    The problem isn;t really that there is oil embedded in all those things that RC does/uses.  We can’t really avoid having some oil used in the production and (mostly) transportation of people and goods.

    The real problem is the car centric lifestyle – which RC has done a good job of minimising.  If the US did no waste so much oil on discretioanry things like personal vehicles, road trucks and air travel, the remaining amount used for productive purposes would be fine.

    we just need to think a bit, and educate a lot.

    No, we need to think a lot, and act a lot

    As someone who has tried to make a living for over a decade getting people to use less water, I can tell you thaty education is about the least effective way there is.  It results in a well educated population, that consumes just as much.  At the individual level, people expect others to “make sacrifices” first.

    The fed dept of education has spent $850m on an education program to encourage walking to school.  The evidence is that it has made no difference to the (small and shrinking) number of kids that walk.

    What is needed is effective leadership, and actions.  If that means serious fuel efficiency rules and taxes for vehicles, so be it. A program to build CNG stattions for hwy trucks, increased use of rail freight, passenger rail etc.

    While I  do agree with turning off the lights in buildings, keep in mind that almost any electrical energy conservation projects, and efforts at renewable electricity generation, have virtually zero impact on oil.  This confusion is used by the solar industry, inparticular, to milk the gov for subsidies.  

    The actions need to  be judged purely by how much oil they will displace – anything else is secondary.  Education to encourage people to drive Ev’s, for example, is useless if there are no affordable EV’s to be had. Same for encouraging transit, if there is only poor service available, and cities pay no attention to densification – the key enabler.

     

    Education is usually just a tactic to appear to be doing something while not actually doing anything – we need the reverse.

     

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  48. By biocrude on December 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Paul N said: “keep in mind that almost any electrical energy conservation projects, and efforts at renewable electricity generation, have virtually zero impact on oil.”

    I am completely in agreement and agree most people don’t seem to grasp this concept.  What I was trying to get at Rate Crimes in my above comment, was that he is very priveledged to live such a green lifestyle.  Unfortunately, for most Americans, they drive an enormous gasoline vehicle, live in an enormous house, and drive an enormously long distance to work each day.  This is the disconnect I am trying to address through education, and what is really needed is a financial trigger to incentivise these people to use alternatives to their current way of life.  Bike, carpool, alt fuels, etc…

    As Adam Werbach famously said, “the decision in America is not between a carrot and an organic carrot, but between a carrot and a twinkie.”  We need to get the twinkies on board with the petroleum reduction program, and IMHO the only way to do this is through a gas tax.  Make it too expensive to continue their current way of life, and they’ll figure something else out.  I believe the dollar point in the US currently is above $4/gallon for gas, and people start to change their habits.  They bitch and whine the entire time, but they change.  We are indeed creatures of habit, and changing it is one of the hardest things to do with a population.  

    This is also why I am a proponent of ethanol and all other alternative fuels.  With ethanol, there are almost 10 million Flex Fuel Vehicles on the road today, that could immediately be displacing petroleum if they would fill them with E85.  

    Also, if Wendell is out there, I’m sure he’ll love this: Steyr Introduces Natural Gas Tractor    Not sure how many farmers will adopt this tractor, or if it will make sense given the typical population density surrounding farmlands for CNG stations, but it is a great idea.  Those farmers need to be running locally produced soy biodiesel in their tractors, and not ULSD.  Hopefully that corn farmer that was over here the other day will come back and talk to us about the efficiencies he’s been making on his farm.  

     

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  49. By rate-crimes on December 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    “What I was trying to get at Rate Crimes in my above comment, was that he is very priveledged [sic] to live such a green lifestyle.” – Biocrud

    You succeeded in pointing out that privilege is relative.  Choices reflect intent.  Gis’ a honk if you see us walking, and share the road if you see us on a bike.  Better yet, choose to not drive.

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  50. By paul-n on December 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Unfortunately, for most Americans, they drive an enormous gasoline vehicle, live in an enormous house, and drive an enormously long distance to work each day.

    I think the number of Americans that have/do all that is shrinking daily…

    I do agree that something needs to be done to accelerate the de-oiling of the economy, though there will never be agreement on how, exactly, to do it.   But yes gas taxes (or an oil import tariff) are a start.

     

    Interesting link about the tractor.  

    The engine is a 3.0 liter, four-cylinder unit, producing 100 kW/136 hp rated, 105 kW/143 hp max power and a maximum torque of 542 N·m (400 lb-ft) at transmission input shaft. Gas storage is handled in nine fuel tanks, with a capacity of 300 liters in total.

    A 4 cyl, 3L engine for 100kW is awfully small for a tractor – a 100kW diesel would normally be 6cyl, 6L, and in fact, their 104kW diesel tractor is a 6.7L turbo diesel (link).  So this NG engine will be running at about twice the RPM’s for the same power – and will probably have about half the life.  I would not buy it.

    And it is NG only.  what would have been much more useful is a diesel/NG dual fuel tractor.  Then it can run on 20%D -80%NG,  or 100% D if there is no NG.  That would be a much more versatile tractor.

    Also, with an NG tractor, the farmer then has the option to produce their own biogas fuel by anaerobic digestion of manure, crop wastes and even wood wastes.  Sell the oilseeds for food, and use the stalks for AD to fuel, and the AD residue as a soil amendement – that is a much better system!  They may well produce more biogas than they need, which is fine, just hook up the tractor to a pto driven, grid tied generator and sell the electricity back to the grid.

    When farmers can produce food and energy, then they are much more viable than using food for energy

     

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  51. By Engineer-Poet on December 12, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    There’s actually a good argument for increasing gas taxes right now:  to support Social Security.  Taxing gasoline so people drive more carefully (reducing import costs) and routing that money to US people would also help the economy.

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  52. By sameer-kulkarni on December 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

    The first issue is to clarify what the pipeline argument is really about. This isn’t really about a pipeline. As one reader pointed out, this is about trying to force Canada to stop developing what is viewed by many as a dirty resource, and that we should “treat the disease.” 


     

    And to make matters worse for the environment Canada has stepped out of Kyoto Protocol treaty. http://www.usatoday.com/news/w…..51842930/1

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  53. By rrapier on December 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    SAM said:

    Robert Rapier said:

    The first issue is to clarify what the pipeline argument is really about. This isn’t really about a pipeline. As one reader pointed out, this is about trying to force Canada to stop developing what is viewed by many as a dirty resource, and that we should “treat the disease.” 


     

    And to make matters worse for the environment Canada has stepped out of Kyoto Protocol treaty. http://www.usatoday.com/news/w…..51842930/1


     

    I gave a talk in Canada a year ago and predicted that they would. There is no way they can develop the oil sands and meet their targets.

    RR

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  54. By sameer-kulkarni on December 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

    I gave a talk in Canada a year ago and predicted that they would. There is no way they can develop the oil sands and meet their targets.

    RR


     

    Now the fundamental question remains as to whether there would be any protests against the parliamentarians in the Canadian capital to revoke their decision on Kyoto Protocol.

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  55. By paul-n on December 13, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Now the fundamental question remains as to whether there would be any protests against the parliamentarians in the Canadian capital to revoke their decision on Kyoto Protocol.

    Well, that’s possible.  But given that the province of Ontario, where the capital is located, also has the largest coal fired power plant in North America.  It emits more CO2 than all the oil sands operations combined.  

    Perhaps the demonstrators in eastern Canada need to lok in their backyard beforte they point their finger at the oilsands.

     

    Even in the province of Alberta, the oilsands produce less CO2 than the coal fired power plants in the province;

    [source]

    The oil sands are a high profile case, but for CO2, the real culprit is coal.  

    I don;t expect to see many Canadians protesting about either, though they might (justifiably) point the finger at China on the CO2 score.

    [link]      
  56. By sameer-kulkarni on December 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Paul N said:

     Now the fundamental question remains as to whether there would be any protests against the parliamentarians in the Canadian capital to revoke their decision on Kyoto Protocol.

    Well, that’s possible.  But given that the province of Ontario, where the capital is located, also has the largest coal fired power plant in North America.  It emits more CO2 than all the oil sands operations combined.  

    Perhaps the demonstrators in eastern Canada need to lok in their backyard beforte they point their finger at the oilsands.

     

    Even in the province of Alberta, the oilsands produce less CO2 than the coal fired power plants in the province;

    The oil sands are a high profile case, but for CO2, the real culprit is coal.  

    I don;t expect to see many Canadians protesting about either, though they might (justifiably) point the finger at China on the CO2 score.


     

    Indeed but CO2 emissions are only a part of a bigger problematic issue. Check: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O…..tal_issues.

    Scroll down to Climate change on the link where it is mentioned “According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Environment Canada claims the oil sands make up 5% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, or 0.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It predicts the oil sands will grow to make up 8% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2015. Environmentalists argue that the availability of more oil for the world made possible by oil sands production in itself raises global emissions of CO2.

    So while US imports > 25% Petroleum derived feedstocks from Canada, the emissions resulting from (Refining of crude + Combustion) of Oil derived from processed sand in US >>> emissions from Processing of Oil sands in Canada. The Canadians are pretty much at a safer side till they consume their own produce. But eventually CO2 emissions shall rise, the question remains from which country US or China etc. Sadly US has not ratified the treaty & China might get a good excuse to withdraw after Canada’s departure.

     

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  57. By paul-n on December 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Well, China was never bound by Kyoto to reduce emissions anyway.  And in the last 15 years, they have increased them dramatically, making everyone else efforts – where they have made any – irrlevant.

     

    The best thing is to sweep the whole mess of Kyoto aside, learn from the failure, and try something new.

    Or don;t bother with any agreement at all – since every country will be doing their best to game the system in their own interests anyway.

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  58. By carbonbridge on December 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Paul N said:

    The best thing is to sweep the whole mess of Kyoto aside, learn from the failure, and try something new.


     

    Paul, – I think that the Gov. of Montana might agree with you.  These two news articles are from this afternoon…  -Mark

     

    Schweitzer OKs state permit for Keystone pipeline project

    Says project would include access on-ramp for Montana oil producers

    Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced Thursday that he has signed off on a permit for TransCanada to build Keystone XL pipeline through six eastern Montana counties.

    The multi-state project still requires approval from the federal government to proceed.

    Schweitzer said TransCanada has fulfilled its obligations under Montana’s Major Facility Siting Act and that the state Department of Environmental Quality will issue the company its certificate in several weeks.

    The $7 billion project includes more than $1 billion in construction in Montana, and will help create 1,200 high-paying construction jobs, the governor’s office said.

    “The Keystone pipeline is a major project for this state and the nation, providing nearly 5 percent of American oil needs with ‘conflict-free’ oil from our friendly neighbors to the north,” Schweitzer said in a statement. “This is an important step in freeing our nation from its dependence on oil from the petro-dictators of the world.”

    See [tomorrow] Friday’s Tribune for more details.

    http://www.greatfallstribune.c…..dyssey=nav|head

     

    By MATTHEW BROWN    The Associated Press

    Published: 4:02 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011

    BILLINGS, Mont. — Montana officials have given approval to a proposed $7 billion oil pipeline from Canada that still needs federal backing before it can move forward.

    http://www.statesman.com/news/…..34554.html

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  59. By Wendell Mercantile on December 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced Thursday that he has signed off on a permit for TransCanada to build Keystone XL pipeline through six eastern Montana counties.

     

    And he should.  Enbridge layed exacty the same type pipeline across Wiscosnin three years ago to bring Cananda oil 470 miles from Duluth/Superior to Chicago refineries.  No fuss, no poitics, routine press, jobs, lease money to those whose land it crosses, and it’s working fine.

    It’s unfortunate Keystone XL turned into an environmetal/political football involving the State Department and White House, instead of being a relativelive straightforward engineering project.

    [link]      
  60. By carbonbridge on December 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    It’s unfortunate Keystone XL turned into an environmetal/political football…..


     

    Wendell:  I think a few things are obvious. 

    1) The USA needs this heavy bitumen oil from a friendly northern neighbor who just resigned from the old Kyoto Treaty. 

    2) If the USA doesn’t purchase this oil and build the pipeline, it is obvious that the Canadians have other buyers for this tar sand oil. 

    3) After having thousands of peaceful and elderly protestors recently surrounding the White House, it becomes VERY clear that Prez O. is dealing with election politics, hence his stall on a Federal Decision for this tar sand pipeline until after the Nov. 2012 election cycle.  Until then, we’ll all be bombarded for the next 11 months with daily political debates while nothing of consequence really gets done by our elected government officials. 

    I’m in favor of voting out every incumbent in Congress as a clean sweep.  Personally, I feel that Prez. O should have had to compete in a Democratic primary to possibly continue leading for another four years.  Just my 2¢ worth.  -Mark

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  61. By Wendell Mercantile on December 16, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    it becomes VERY clear that Prez O. is dealing with election politics, hence his stall on a Federal Decision for this tar sand pipeline until after the Nov. 2012 election cycle.

    I strongly concurr.  Cool

     

     

     

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  62. By carbonbridge on December 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    A new political tweak here ???

    Keystone XL pipeline permit OK’d for Montana, Gov. Schweitzer says

    By Phil Drake on December 16, 2011

    ………Because the project crosses international lines it has to be approved by the U.S. Secretary of State’s office. President Barack Obama delayed a decision until 2013, only to face Republican-backed edicts (including one from Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont. which passed the House last week) tucked inside the payroll savings tax ordering him to make a decision within 60 days.………

    http://montana.watchdog.org/20…..rnor-says/

    ………more

    http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/…..val/25808/

    [link]      
  63. By Joseph on December 22, 2011 at 2:04 am

    but if oil supplies fell off a cliff in the next few years, society would collapse

    That is a tad bit extreme… oil supplies will not fall off a cliff in the next few years… and society wouldn’t collapse.

    Forget about Global Weirding for the moment, producing pollution from burning fossil fuels is bad on a number of fronts: politically, economically, environmentally, and health-wise. We shouldn’t be increasing our carbon delivery infrastructure. Using the “addiction” metaphor, infrastructure is drug delivery systems.

    The USA needs this heavy bitumen oil from a friendly northern neighbor who just resigned from the old Kyoto Treaty.

    No it doesn’t. Peak consumption has already occurred and oil use will continue to decrease.

    If the USA doesn’t purchase this oil and build the pipeline, it is obvious that the Canadians have other buyers for this tar sand oil.

    While Canada would like to have other buyers the fact is that Canada doesn’t. There is currently no practical way to export the oil. There is only a proposed pipeline to the coast from the tar sands (Northern Gateway) which hasn’t even started the hearings stage and it politically complicated because it would cross dozens of different aboriginal groups’ land.

    We need to get the twinkies on board with the petroleum reduction program, and IMHO the only way to do this is through a gas tax.

    How about we start with just having the price of gasoline represent the true cost which would double the price at the pump.

    This is also why I am a proponent of ethanol and all other alternative fuels. With ethanol, there are almost 10 million Flex Fuel Vehicles on the road today, that could immediately be displacing petroleum if they would fill them with E85.

    Well… it sure would help if we imported Brazilian ethanol tax free instead of taxing it at ~50 cent/gallon. At the very least if we are going to tax Brazilian ethanol we should tax imported petroleum.

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  64. By rrapier on December 22, 2011 at 3:28 am

    Joseph said:

    While Canada would like to have other buyers the fact is that Canada doesn’t. There is currently no practical way to export the oil.


    They are exporting it now; they are just doing so by truck and rail. Some of it comes out of there via pipeline as well.
     

    Well… it sure would help if we imported Brazilian ethanol tax free

    instead of taxing it at ~50 cent/gallon. At the very least if we are

    going to tax Brazilian ethanol we should tax imported petroleum.

    Agree with that. This is a policy that to me makes zero sense; penalize foreign ethanol but not foreign oil.

    RR

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  65. By paul-n on December 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    This is a policy that to me makes zero sense; penalize foreign ethanol but not foreign oil.

    I’m sure it makes sense to the domestic ethanol industry, but as we know, they tend to pet themselves before their country.

     

    Canada is actually exporting oil by pipeline already – the Trans Mountiam pipeline runs from Edmonton to Vancouver (to a refinery here), but there are also loading ships and sending to you know where.

    In addition to the Northen Gateway pipeline to Kitimat (mid north coast of BC) there is also a proposal to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline, for which there is already an established right of way.

     

    If the Canadian government gets serious, they have some very sweeping powers to reclaim land for projects deemed in the national interest.  Was done for things like the Cdn Pacific Railroad and Trans Canada Hwy, and they might yet dust it off for a pipeline or three.

    After all, the $20 spread on wti/Brent is costing Canada about $8bn per year – that is enough to pay some decent compensation to the few affected by the pipeline(s).

    There is also likely to be another pipeline built to take oil to Eastern Canada (which currently imports oil).  This would take out about 500kbd, of current exports to the US, which the US would have to get from somewhere else.

    Canada can, will and should, put itself first here – nothing personal against the US, it’s  just business

    [link]      
  66. By carbonbridge on January 3, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    It’s unfortunate Keystone XL turned into an environmetal/political football involving the State Department and White House, instead of being a relativelive straightforward engineering project.


     

    Some fresh Keystone Pipeline news on 1-2-12.  This AP writer sums up the issues fairly well and indicates Politics and Timing Issues with the White House.  Par for the course…

    Obama, Congress begin 2012 in oil pipeline dispute
    By MATTHEW DALY | AP – 7 hrs ago

    http://news.yahoo.com/obama-co…..54646.html

    [link]      
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