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By Robert Rapier on Dec 12, 2011 with 55 responses

Why Some Republicans are Delusional About Oil and Energy Policy

Two Sides of a Coin

In a recent video blog about energy politics, I stated that in my opinion each of the major political parties in the U.S. only gets half of the energy picture. Democrats tend to demonize oil usage, with many believing that we can shift to renewables for our energy needs. To be clear, we can — but not in the way they imagine. They simply underestimate the role oil plays in our lives, and therefore overestimate the ease of a transition. As a result, they feel they have little use for oil companies, and so they are perpetually at war with the oil industry. Of course renewables certainly have a role, and must be the long-term answer. But a little realism about the pathway from here to there is in order.

But this column isn’t about the Democrats.

On the Republican side, the common view is that we are awash in oil and gas, if only the environmentalists would clear out and let the oil companies drill. This view was recently articulated by current Republican flavor-of-the-month Newt Gingrich during the CNN Republican Presidential Debate:

BLITZER: The argument, Speaker Gingrich — and I know you’ve studied this, and I want you to weigh in — on the sanctioning of the Iranian Central Bank, because if you do that, for all practical purposes, it cuts off Iranian oil exports, 4 million barrels a day.

The Europeans get a lot of that oil. They think their economy, if the price of gasoline skyrocketed, which it would, would be disastrous. That’s why the pressure is on the U.S. to not impose those sanctions. What say you?

GINGRICH: Well, I say you — the question you just asked is perfect, because the fact is we ought to have a massive all-sources energy program in the United States designed to, once again, create a surplus of energy here, so we could say to the Europeans pretty cheerfully, that all the various sources of oil we have in the United States, we could literally replace the Iranian oil.

Now that’s how we won World War II.

Later on, he stated:

GINGRICH: But let me make a deeper point. There’s a core thing that’s wrong with this whole city. You said earlier that it would take too long to open up American oil. We defeated Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan in three years and eight months because we thought we were serious.

If we were serious, we would open up enough oil fields in the next year that the price of oil worldwide would collapse. Now, that’s what we would do if we were a serious country. If we were serious…

That’s a fairly good summation of a common Republican position: The reason we aren’t energy independent is that we simply aren’t serious enough about it. We can have all the oil we want — live, drive, prosper — if we just get serious. Just to put this in perspective, as Arthur Berman points out at The Oil Drum, to achieve what Gingrich suggested would require that we find six new Prudhoe Bay-sized oil fields in the next year.

So while Democrats may undervalue our need for domestic oil, Republicans can be wildly delusional about the prospects for domestic oil production to supply our needs. In each case, there are elements of truth. No doubt we can produce more oil, and without a doubt there remains oil to be discovered. As I have pointed out before, both oil and natural gas production have been on the rise for the past couple of years. In fact, natural gas has set production records. So if prices are high enough, there are marginal sources that will contribute more to U.S. energy supplies. But replacing the 8 million barrels per day that we currently import is wildly unrealistic, and would require the U.S. to greatly exceed the 1970 oil production peak of nearly 10 million barrels of oil per day. (Current U.S. oil production is under 6 million barrels per day).

U.S. Oil Production Peaked in 1970 at Nearly 10 Million Barrels per Day

Misleading Study Obfuscates Recoverable Reserves

But where do some Republicans get these notions? From reports like this one: U.S. Experiencing the Beginning of a Long-term Energy Boom:

On December 6th, the Institute for Energy Research released a groundbreaking report claiming that the amount of oil that is technically recoverable in the U.S. is more than 1.4 trillion barrels, with the largest deposits located offshore, in portions of Alaska, and in shale deposits throughout the country. The report estimates that when combined with resources from Canada and Mexico, total recoverable oil in North America exceeds nearly 1.7 trillion barrels.

To put this into perspective, the largest producer in the world, Saudi Arabia, has about 260 billion barrels of oil in proved reserves. It’s suggested that the technically recoverable oil in North America could fuel the U.S. with seven billion barrels per year for almost 250 years.

So, what does this mean for our energy future? For starters, it could mean the end of our reliance on imported oil from unfriendly nations.

I find these sorts of reports highly misleading, for the following reason. It is true that the U.S. has tremendous oil resources. But it is also true that most of those resources are not economically recoverable. An analogy I have used in the past is the amount of gold in the oceans. There are trillions of dollars of gold in the oceans that is technically recoverable. But that gold is not — and in my opinion will never be — economically recoverable. So it would be misleading for me to argue that we can have all the gold we want if we just get serious about it.

In fact, I tracked down the report referenced above from the Institute for Energy Research: North American Energy Inventory. Then I tracked one of the references they used to come up with their estimate of more than a trillion barrels of “technically recoverable” oil in the United States. The source is a U.S. Department of Energy report: “Undeveloped Domestic Oil Resources.” What that report says is quite different than the implications that are being drawn. The following chart tells the tale:

So of the 1.3 trillion barrels of oil from this DOE report, most is not technically recoverable, and the only category that is known to be presently economically recoverable is that tiny sliver of 22 billion barrels that says “Proved Reserves.” This accounts for less than 2% of the 1.1 trillion barrels categorized as “Undeveloped Oil In-Place.”

A common problem here is the confusion between resources and reserves. Back to the analogy of gold in the oceans, the resource is 25 billion ounces of gold in the oceans. That is the estimated inventory of gold in the oceans. The reserve — which means the amount of that resource that is technically AND economically recoverable — is zero ounces of gold. This is because it may require 10 or 100 times the value of the gold to extract and purify it from the oceans.

Conclusion

The truth is that it will always take too much energy to produce some of those oil resources, placing some of them forever out of reach. But, the magical thinking from many Republicans here is that the oil is there if the political will is there for taking it. The danger in this kind of thinking is exactly the same as the danger in thinking we can smoothly transition to renewables: It diminishes the urgency of our energy predicament. After all, if people believe that renewables will save us, or that more drilling will save us — we are going to put off making the tough decisions that could really save us in the long run.

But the part of the equation that Republicans do get right is to the extent that we use oil, we should produce as much of that as possible domestically. The part the Democrats get right is that we need to reduce the amount of oil that we actually need by pursuing policies that encourage conservation and alternatives. If both parties could broadly work together on these two goals, we would have the makings of a solid energy policy.

Link to Original Article: Why Some Republicans are Delusional About Oil and Energy Policy

By Robert Rapier

  1. By Petes on December 12, 2011 at 3:45 am

    Good article, RR, but I have a question. You were pessimistic about the chances of achieving any reductions in CO2 emissions, particularly because of industrialisation in the developing world. Is there any reason to be less pessimistic about a smooth transition to renewables? You have observed in the past that the price signal tends to be erratic, and if we rely on it we could bounce along either in the grip of recession or continually on the verge of it for a long time. With delusions on both sides of the political divide, what reason is there to expect any better?

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  2. By Angel on December 12, 2011 at 4:28 am

    I enjoyed reading this…Good Job Mr. Rapier

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  3. By moiety on December 12, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Petes said:

    Is there any reason to be less pessimistic about a smooth transition to renewables?

    I would suggest looking at the German example where they have reduced a particular energy generation method (nuclear). They are replacing this in the short to medium term (and perhaps long term in my opinion) with coal, gas and imports. Renewables in the short to medium term (5-10 years) will have very little impact due to the large subsidies required for both production and for the energy they generate.
     

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  4. By Walt on December 12, 2011 at 6:04 am

     

    Ah, this is a bit expensive to operate a rocket car, but with subsidies from DOE we could compete with electric cars!

     

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..-feet.html

     

    Paul/Mark, still cannot post on Pauls comments; as I suspect nobody else is allowed either that is not registered.  That certainly silences the topic of methanol if nobody else can comment either…as I know it is a touchy subject in some circles due to its competing with petroleum refineries and gasoline.  It is like trying to post on the ethanol sites…not!

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  5. By Edward Kerr on December 12, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Robert:
    I truly enjoy reading your ideas on this issue that we both care about so passionately. However, it appears that the issue of “time” is a big sticking point. I am certainly a proponent of your assessment that “Of course renewables certainly have a role, and must be the long-term answer”, but the problem is that most of what is talked about is the “short term” solution to (what appears to me at least) keeping gas prices from becoming a bigger political problem than they presently are!
    Then in conclusion you reiterate “The danger in this kind of thinking is exactly the same as the danger in thinking we can smoothly transition to renewables: It diminishes the urgency of our energy predicament. After all, if people believe that renewables will save us, or that more drilling will save us — we are going to put off making the tough decisions that could really save us in the long run.”
    So, I ask you, what exactly is it that you think it is that will “save us in the long run”?
    I’m fully aware that, due to political complications and resistance from vested interests, any transition to renewables will be a bumpy ride at best, but if we continue to avoid the issue due to “immediate” concerns, when and how will we address the “long term” problem. In my opinion, every barrel of oil that we consume without any “long term energy policy” is a misuse of that resource and will only make any transition to renewables that much more painful (in just about any yardstick one wishes to measure it with)
    In reality the Long Term issue is where the “tough decisions” that you mention are going to come into play, so how do we get to the place where we know what those decisions are going to entail and how we are going to muster the political will to “make it happen”?
    Best Regards,
    Ed

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  6. By savro on December 12, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Walt said:

    Paul/Mark, still cannot post on Pauls comments; as I suspect nobody else is allowed either that is not registered.  That certainly silences the topic of methanol if nobody else can comment either…as I know it is a touchy subject in some circles due to its competing with petroleum refineries and gasoline.  It is like trying to post on the ethanol sites…not!


     

    Walt, I don’t take kindly to slander. If you don’t want to register, then don’t. But if you choose not to, don’t go ahead and blame others for “silencing” the conversation. Your paranoia is annoying and insulting; the only one that is anti-methanol here is the figment of your imagination.

    And once we’re on the topic of posting etiquette, how about refraining from your usual copy/pastes of a ton of text into your posts — especially with off-topic diatribes that you try to justify as being on-topic without any real warrant. At the end of the day you’re derailing the conversation more often than not. We’ve been getting many complaints from readers that it annoys them.

    Lastly, we’ve gone off topic enough already on this thread. If you want to discuss this further feel free to contact me directly (editor [at] consumerenergyreport.com), but please don’t derail this thread even more. Thank you.

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  7. By Benny BND Cole on December 12, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I agree with much of what RR says here, especially that when it comes to crude oil, we can expect some improvements, but not huge gushers in the USA.

    However, RR does not contemplate natural gas, also a fossil fuel.

    In natural gas, the USA is in fact awash, and can be for generations. Natural gas can run cars as CNG or propane, or as methanol.

    The price of natural gas may rise in future years, but my rough guess is that it will be cheaper than oil for a long, long time. 20 years at least.

    It is not hard to see most fleets n the USA converting to natural gas, and many cars. I am seeing more CNG gas stations in the Los Angeles area.

    The advent of the i-phone and other gizmos may play a role here. A person buying a CNG car, even an early adopter, may feel some “range anxiety.” Where to fill up?

    But with an i-phone or other device, he can look up CNG stations along whatever route he is taking.

    My suspicion is that Peak Oi has fizzled, and that natural gas and biofuels and conservation have put a lit on oil prices, somewhere in the $80 to $100 range. Oh sure, spikes are possible–in either direction. It is a speculative, and manipulated market.

    But even at $80 there is gobs of incentives to drill for oil. We may see fossil fuel gluts in five to 10 years.

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  8. By Jim Baird on December 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    In a recent post, Professor Pat Takahashi, former director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii states:

    OTEC COULD BE THE ONLY SUSTAINABLE OPTION IN THIS CENTURY TO PROVIDE ENERGY AND RESOURCES FOR THE WORLD.

    In terms that Republicans might understand, there are no dry holes with OTEC. Each platform is a guaranteed electricity, H2, NH3 or CH3OH gusher, depending on which transportation fuel you prefer.

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  9. By Walt on December 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Samuel R. Avro said:

     

    Walt, I don’t take kindly to slander. If you don’t want to register, then don’t. But if you choose not to, don’t go ahead and blame others for “silencing” the conversation. Your paranoia is annoying and insulting; the only one that is anti-methanol here is the figment of your imagination.

    And once we’re on the topic of posting etiquette, how about refraining from your usual copy/pastes of a ton of text into your posts — especially with off-topic diatribes that you try to justify as being on-topic without any real warrant. At the end of the day you’re derailing the conversation more often than not. We’ve been getting many complaints from readers that it annoys them.

    Lastly, we’ve gone off topic enough already on this thread. If you want to discuss this further feel free to contact me directly (editor [at] consumerenergyreport.com], but please don’t derail this thread even more. Thank you.


     

    Don’t take as slander.

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  10. By rrapier on December 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Walt said:

     

    Paul/Mark, still cannot post on Pauls comments; as I suspect nobody else is allowed either that is not registered.  That certainly silences the topic of methanol if nobody else can comment either…as I know it is a touchy subject in some circles due to its competing with petroleum refineries and gasoline.  It is like trying to post on the ethanol sites…not!


     

    Let’s review, shall we? I wrote a pro-methanol article in which I embedded a video on one of your modular methanol units. Did I ask you for anything in return? I did not. If an investor found you as a result of that video, was I going to be rewarded for that? I was not. What did you do in return? It was only a matter of time before you started making accusations here of anti-methanol bias. Anyone who knows my position on methanol and has followed my writings on methanol knows that is ludicrous, but you — because you imagine that my interests in other areas could make me biased — start throwing around this as a reason that I am biased against methanol. It was slander then and it is slander now.

    So what did I do in response? I removed the video from the essay. I am not going to give free advertizing to someone who comes on here and falsely accuses me of bias. What is your response? You decided that since I removed your free advertisement you would not register, and because you aren’t registered you can’t use all of the functions of the site. As a result of YOUR CHOICE — now you go around tossing more insinuations of anti-methanol bias. Are you for real?

    Look, if you don’t want to register, don’t register. But then don’t make this about something else because of your choice not to register. As it is, you turn every other thread into a discussion about methanol, so I can’t believe you have the nerve to complain that methanol isn’t getting enough attention. But I will warn you that if you keep going down this road, you will join our friend Kit P.

    RR

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  11. By rrapier on December 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Edward Kerr said:

    So, I ask you, what exactly is it that you think it is that will “save us in the long run”?


     

    Ed, here is how I think it will play out, but not how I hope it will play out. I think we will continue down the path we are on. Democrats will remain at war with oil companies, and will throw down obstacles to further oil development. Republicans will slow investments into renewables because they believe we have all of this untapped oil that would be much cheaper to access. As a result, we will neither develop the alternatives we need nor enough domestic resources, and so the result will be that we will remain at the mercy of unstable regions of the world. Our economy will suffer a number of shocks, and rationing will take place either through higher prices or the government stepping in. In any case, it will meant that we are going to have to get by with a lot less oil than we use now. It will mean that the standards of living that we have grown accustomed to will change.

    RR

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  12. By rrapier on December 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Petes said:

    Good article, RR, but I have a question. You were pessimistic about the chances of achieving any reductions in CO2 emissions, particularly because of industrialisation in the developing world. Is there any reason to be less pessimistic about a smooth transition to renewables?


     

    Pete, I don’t believe the transition will be smooth. Many people certainly wouldn’t consider this period of time we are going through to be smooth. And I think it threatens to get a lot worse before it gets better.

    RR

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  13. By Rufus on December 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Good Article, Robert. I have to agree with everything you stated.

    There is one sliver of good news, however. The fuel economy of purchased cars Is rising fairly nicely (Up 12.3% since Oct of 2007.)

    It won’t “Save” us, but it will continue to give us a “little” breathing room.

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  14. By Rufus on December 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Another “unremarked upon” story is that Warren Buffet (major stockholder of Burlington Northern Railroad) has bought 3,600 Megawatts of Wind Farms, and, now, a 400 Megawatt Solar Farm (Topaz, in San Luis Obispo.)

    I don’t think it will be too many years before the railroads start “electrifying.” That will “save” quite a bit of Diesel.

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  15. By Walt on December 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

    As it is, you turn every other thread into a discussion about methanol, so I can’t believe you have the nerve to complain that methanol isn’t getting enough attention. But I will warn you that if you keep going down this road, you will join our friend Kit P.
    RR


     

    I’m glad you did not say I turned it into a discussion on finance as that was my core worry.  I plead guilty to pushing methanol.  My concern was taht Sam did not see my/Paul’s posting on the fact that non-registered users could not post to that blog posting.  With his response above, I see now he saw it and obviously only registered users can respond to his postings…otherwise, it would have been fixed immediately as he is admin.

    The day when I’ll be removed like Kit is coming…I know this and accept it.

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  16. By rrapier on December 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Walt said:

    The day when I’ll be removed like Kit is coming…I know this and accept it.


     

    I hope you also know and accept that if it does happen, it will be because of your own actions, such as repeatedly making false accusations of methanol bias. And I will leave that decision up to Sam.

    RR

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  17. By Wendell Mercantile on December 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I would suggest looking at the German example where they have reduced a particular energy generation method (nuclear).

    Moety,

    We should rephrase that to say, the German “experiment.” Perhaps it will turn out well, but there are no guarantees. But they deserve a tip of the hat for taking action instead of dithering.

    Hopefully they have not headed down an irreversible course should the experiment have adverse or unintended consequences.

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  18. By moiety on December 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    I would suggest looking at the German example where they have reduced a particular energy generation method (nuclear).

    Moety,

    We should rephrase that to say, the German “experiment.” Perhaps it will turn out well, but there are no guarantees. But they deserve a tip of the hat for taking action instead of dithering.

    Hopefully they have not headed down an irreversible course should the experiment have adverse or unintended consequences.


     

    I disagree that they deserve a tip of the hat. It is a gutsy move but only that in the short to medium term could serious hurt German green credentials. They have drastically reduced the amount of power they export and this will continue as more plants go off line. This is after they have brought in more imports and acquired more fossil fuel energy in the form of old coal plants and natural gas. I think that the decision was made more for an ideal than for a view to protecting the consumer and economic strength. I would tip the hat if German politicians had actually laid out the potential pitfalls such as increased prices but they have not.

    RR I hear something about advanced recovery using CO2. Is it possible that using sequestered CO2 that this production could be increased? I have the feeling that the impact would not be great but do you have a better idea?

    e.g. http://green.yahoo.com/global-…..round.html

     

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  19. By Rufus on December 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    An Excellent Assessment of Bakken/Alaskan Oil Production

    The Best I’ve read.

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  20. By Walt on December 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

    I hope you also know and accept that if it does happen, it will be because of your own actions, such as repeatedly making false accusations of methanol bias. And I will leave that decision up to Sam.

    RR


     

    I predict the final removal will be due to an influencial group of people writing you and Sam complaining about their disagreement to my cut and pasting of quotes from various articles I feel are relevant to the topic of energy/finance, and they are annoyed.  Once I knew there are “many complaints” from those who are fed up with my postings, I figured like Kit I’m next.  It will have nothing to do with methanol in my view.

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  21. By DanR on December 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Robert, thanks once again for an insightful and rational discussion of the blathering nonsense that is produced by our so-called political debate. I have stopped watching the debates because moderators such as Blitzer never call the candidates on the answers they give. Possibly they don’t know enough, or more cynically, possibly they don’t wish to expose the idiocy. I really wish we could have a serious and intelligent debate where the answers are actually evaluated and discussed and torn to shreds, if warranted. It would be led by a panel of energy experts rather than a media figure. Robert, you would be my first choice to be on that panel. I would pay money to see these candidates have to defend their bloviating. Unrealistic for sure, but you never know, ’tis the season for miracles. Speaking of bloviating, I would also wish that the comments on your blog entries did justice to the work you put into them. Just keep in mind that there is a large number of readers who appreciate your work without necessarily turning up in the comment section.

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  22. By Douglas Hvistendahl on December 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    My wife & I are 1) improving our back yard garden, 2) using summer heat to warm up the dirt under and around the house, and 3) as possible, putting “wing” insulation around the house to decrease losses from the dirt storage.
    And other insulation other places. Re 2&3, there has been a noticeable, although small, decrease in our heating bills. Perhaps more critical, the minimum temperature has risen, not enough to be comfortable yet, but enough to keep the pipes from freezing.

    Now if someone would come up with a good solution for transportation!

    I think waiting on the politicos will be a mistake. They tend to be more concerned by not getting blame, and gathering credit than getting the job done.

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  23. By Wendell Mercantile on December 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I disagree that they deserve a tip of the hat.

    Ah, but when has it been possible over the last century to say the Germans deserve a “tip of the hat?” (Wendell: <— Speaking as someone of mixed Dutch-German heritage.)

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  24. By paul-n on December 13, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Benny BND Cole wrote;

    However, RR does not contemplate natural gas, also a fossil fuel.

    In natural gas, the USA is in fact awash, and can be for generations. Natural gas can run cars as CNG or propane, or as methanol.

    bemny, I think “awash” is a very poor choice of words here – literally and figuratively.  You can only be awash in a liquid, not a gas.

    And, the US is, still, a net importer of natural gas – so “awash” is a bit premature.

    As for vehicle use, yes I agree that CNG is aviable option.  BUt where in the political discussions, is it being seriously considered for widespread use, like ethanol has been?

    Picken’s plant got shot down, and no politician, of any importance, is championing CNG for vehicles.

    And given that (according to the Wikipedia site for CNG), there are still 17 States that don;t even have one CNG pump, there is a *lot* of work to do.

    It will be quite some time before the US can pass the global leader in CNG cars with 2.74 million CNG vehicles on the road – that would be – Pakistan!

     

     

     

     

     

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  25. By Benny BND Cole on December 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Paul-

     

    Well, “awash” may be a bad word, although in my defense, natural gas can be liquified into LPG, or cooled to a liquid for transportation, or made into methanol. 

     

    I do think that natural gas is very abundant in North America, and will be for decades, and we will see a migration of vehicles to natural gas. 

     

    Sometimes these things happen slowly—who bought the first fax machine, for example—and then boom. People will see CNG ststaions, and have a friend who saves $2k a year using natural gas. 

     

    Thei-phone does solve a lot of the “range anxiety” problems.

     

    BTW, there is a guy, right now in Oklahoma, selling used CNG vehicles off the lot for under $10k.  See cngvehicles.net. I think he just gets used trucks and cars and converts them to CNG.  What a great diea—and a low-risk way for many to get their feet wet in CNG.  If the CNG doesn;t work out–well it was a used-car, and not a $40k Volt. Cool

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  26. By paul-n on December 14, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Benny,

     

    Gas will be abundant, though I’m not sure how long it will remain this cheap.

    NG is by far the easiest choice for new elec generation, or for industrial furnaces etc, so that demand will increase.

    And now we are seeing LNG exports starting to happen, so that demand will increase.

    And Canada will likely use more of its NG for oilsands, and for LNG exports, so that source (for the US) will decrease.

    This doesn;t mean NG will be cscarce like oil, but I don’t think it will remain tnis cheap.

    Still, it IS a great bargain for vehicles, and, as you know, I especially think so for diesel trucks, buses and trains.  All of which can be dual fuel operation,. and almost all of whic have much higher usage (miles/yr) than most cars.

    A fed funded program to have CNG station at say, no more than 200 miles apart on every interstate would not be that dfficult, or exopensive, but would make a huge difference to getting trucks to use it.

    Interesting link for that guy – obviously ex-fleet vehicles, but yes, a bargain!

     

    For another bargain way to do NG, though almost certainly illegal, check out the way it was done back in ww2;

     

    http://www.lowtechmagazine.com……html#more

    You could actually do this for for farm vehicles, but might be tough on the road…

     

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  27. By Rufus on December 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    LN G is the story here. Nat gas in the U.S. will reach world prices (3 to 4 times present U.S. prices) within a few years.

    Railroads wil go to “Electricity” (probably why Warren Buffet is buying Solar, and Wind Farms.)

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  28. By Arch Stanton on December 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Just last week posters went up all around my workplace, a DoD facility: all DoD, non-tactical vehicles must be hybrid by 2015. Sign of the times, or, more specifically, petroleum reserves.

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  29. By Rufus on December 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Farm vehicles will run on Soybean/Corn oil, mostly. Possibly some ethanol for the smaller utility tractors.

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  30. By Optimist on December 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Farm vehicles will run on Soybean/Corn oil, mostly. Possibly some ethanol for the smaller utility tractors.

    Let’s talk about present day, Rufus. How many farm vehicles run on those fuels now? I suspect not too many, as I believe the product can be sold for more than the price of diesel…

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  31. By Rufus on December 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    I’m looking long-term, Optimist. For the Doomers out there that are always wringing their hands and sobbing, “we’re gonna starve to death.”

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  32. By Wendell Mercantile on December 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Farm vehicles will run on Soybean/Corn oil, mostly. Possibly some ethanol for the smaller utility tractors.

    With all due respect Rufus, Big Ag long-ago missed the boat by not asking the ag equipment makers to make their equipment run on ammonia. In effect zero-emissions, and the Farm Belt already has an NH3 distribution network.

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  33. By Rufus on December 14, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Wendell, you can make that argument to someone who has never been “almost killed” by an anhydrous ammonia tank. I don’t think I’m interested.

    I’d rather just buy some corn oil from the ethanol plant, or, perhaps, better yet, crush some of my own soybeans (if I were a farmer, that is.) :)

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  34. By Optimist on December 14, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Why “crush some of my own soybeans” when you can sell food for a better price than you can buy fuel?

    The only scenario where there might be starvation is if the US uses food as fuel on a large enough scale… Then again, we’re almost there with the dumbo’s we have in DC.

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  35. By Rufus on December 14, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Get a grip, Optimist; the main money product from soybeans, soybean meal, would still be there. In fact, soybean Oil is out of favor with the “healthy eating club,” right now.

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  36. By Rufus on December 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Besides, it seems kind of strange worrying about “world hunger,” and blaming biodiesel when we’re Paying Farmers NOT to Plant 30 Million Acres every year.

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  37. By paul-n on December 14, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Besides, it seems kind of strange

    You know, you could use that into for almost any US gov policy…

     

    But yes, the set aside program has long outlived its usefulness.  But like any of these things, removing them is politically very difficult.

    it is ironic that the ethanol credit is going away, but this program remains.

     

    The fact is, that whether it is ethanol, soy/canola oil or methane by AD, that farmers will be able to produce enough of their own fuel, if they really want/need to.

    IF some silly thing happens in the Persian Gulf and we have $150+ oil, I’d say that soybean oil will be staying on the farm…

    And they might even – finally – learn how to co-fuel with ethanol.

    Might also be time to start growing Rufus’ favourite Chinese Tallow Trees – much higher oil yield than soybeans!

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  38. By Rufus on December 14, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    A lot of people really overestimate the amount of fuel required on the modern farm. Total diesel usage for a corn farmer is approx. 4.5 gal/acre, start to finish.

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  39. By Wendell Mercantile on December 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    I’d rather just buy some corn oil from the ethanol plant, or, perhaps…

    Corn ethanol made using synthetic ammonia fertilizer and distilled with natural gas. Why not use the ammonia directly instead of going that circuitous route? (Actually, my thrust is using ammonia in auto fuel cells instead of hydrogen — hydrogen that is both dangerous and difficult to handle.)

    You have no imagination or vision and are still inspired by making ethanol the way the Romans and Egyptians made it centuries ago.

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  40. By Rufus on December 14, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Wendell, an acre of corn gives up about 480 gallons of ethanol + 2,800 lbs of DDGS, + 6 to 12 gallons of corn oil.

    Now, you tell me how much anhydrous ammonia went on that acre of corn.

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  41. By carbonbridge on December 15, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Rufus said:

    [Lets talk about ethanol again...]   Rapier wrties:  Why Some Republicans are Delusional About Oil and Energy Policy


     

    Just a little off topic here – yet I decided to share the titles and urls to two very interesting articles which I’ve just read after dinner tonight.  Both are topical.  Hope everyone had a good hump day including you Rufus.  Have you ever eaten some DDG in your flapjacks?  -Mark

     

    Witness: Reflecting on Iraq as U.S. troops withdraw

    Reuters – 6 mins ago

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/witne…..22551.html

     

     

     

    Giant plumes of methane bubbling to surface of Arctic Ocean / Underwater discovery troubles scientists

    Dangerous activity in the Arctic could speed up global climate change, experts say.  –  12 hrs ago

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/si…..04179.html

     

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  42. By Wendell Mercantile on December 15, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Now, you tell me how much anhydrous ammonia went on that acre of corn.

    According to the U of Illinois Extension (an expert I should think) between 100-200 lbs per acre depending on the soil conditions.

    Now you tell me what the corn yield would be w/o using any ammonia — especially after corn farmers have been “mining” the same soil decade after decade.

    Corn ethanol is nothing more than a wacky scheme to convert natural gas to alcohol — first by using NG as a feedstock to make ammonia — using the ammonia to grow corn — and then using more NG to distill the alcohol out of fermented corn mash.

    Lucking for corn farmers Haber and Bosch figured out nitrogen fixation. Every time you say “corn ethanol” you are subliminally saying, “Three cheers to Haper-Bosch.”

    Lucky for the human race that Haper and Bosch figured it out.

    But the hard truth is Haper-Bosch is to sublime a process for us to use it to make auto fuel in the indirect, inefficient process we now use to make ethanol because of a lack of vision and the interference and corruption of Corn Belt politics.

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  43. By russ on December 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Arch Stanton said:

    Just last week posters went up all around my workplace, a DoD facility: all DoD, non-tactical vehicles must be hybrid by 2015. Sign of the times, or, more specifically, petroleum reserves.


     

    A sign of politics more than anything

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  44. By Rufus on December 15, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    We’re paying $400.00/gal for fuel delivered to some of our positions in Afghanistan.

    That ain’t “politics;” that’s reality.

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  45. By Rufus on December 15, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Yikes, I “bolded” the heck out of that comment. I guess if you forget to do the /b thing it just bolds everything thereafter. Sorry for shouting. :)

     

    Sam’s Edit: Fixed it for you, Rufus.

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  46. By Wendell Mercantile on December 16, 2011 at 12:43 am

    We’re paying $400.00/gal for fuel delivered to some of our positions in Afghanistan.

    That surprise you? There is no fuel in Afghanistan and every drop has to be shipped in — most by truck through the Khyber Pass, but also by air and other routes.

    Obviously you’ve never been in combat as I have and have no idea how expensive logistics can be. (Old saying: Amateurs worry about tactics and strategy — professions worry about logistics.)

    When I flew in Vietnam sometimes when we ran low on AvGas because the roads were blocked by weather or the VC, we would use Chinook helicopters to fly to our Special Forces Camp hauling 500 gallon blivets of fuel to for our airplanes. That was 40 years ago — what do you think that cost to deliver?

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  47. By paul-n on December 16, 2011 at 3:03 am

    I would imagine that in a addtion to the $400/gal cost, you could probably also put a cost of gal/lost life, given the risk involved in flying (or doing anything) in a war zone.

     

    Rufus, if you went back to signing in, then you can go back and edit your posts after the fact.  Can be useful for those times when you put your foot in your mouth….

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  48. By DGH on December 16, 2011 at 10:58 am

    1) Yes that statement is at least an extreme exaggeration.
    2) IMO proven reserves for the United States are also an extreme exaggeration in the opposite direction.
    3) Over the next 100 years United States oil production will almost certainly top 150 billion barrels of oil produced, assuming oil prices do not collapse.
    4) By doing both conservation and productive use of resources The United States can significantly reduce imports maybe even to less the what we can import from the rest of North America.
    5) While I do not think it is likely the United States would become a net energy exporter, this is very different then net oil exporter. Currently the United States is a net exporter of coal, refined products and biomass.

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  49. By paul-n on December 16, 2011 at 11:32 am

    IMO proven reserves for the United States are also an extreme exaggeration in the opposite direction.

    And just what is the basis of your opinion?  ARe you saying that the oil companies, who can be audited by the SEC, are under-reporting their reserves, or do you know something they don’t?

    Over the next 100 years United States oil production will almost certainly top 150 billion barrels of oil produced, assuming oil prices do not collapse.

    First we have to assume the US itself does not collapse, but assuming that doesn;t happen, just where, other than oil shale, do you think that amount of oil will come from?

    Keep in mind the definition of reserves are oil that is technically *and* economically recoverable.  Right now, the oil shale is neither.  

    By doing both conservation and productive use of resources The United States can significantly reduce imports maybe even to less the what we can import from the rest of North America.

    Well, sure, but given that, today, domestic production + canada + mexico imports is only HALF of the daily oil usage in the US, there is a lot of work to be done.  And its not as if oil independence hasn;t been a goal for quite some time….

    Conservation implies driving less and doing so in smaller, more efficient vehicles.  To date, most Americans, and certainly most American politicians, have shown little real interest in doing that.

    As for increasing production, maybe, but its not as if the domestic oil industry hasn’t been going flat out to try and do that – those rigs have been pretty busy for the last few years you know…

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  50. By DGH on December 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    And just what is the basis of your opinion? ARe you saying that the oil companies, who can be audited by the SEC, are under-reporting their reserves, or do you know something they don’t?

    History for a start in 1990 proven oil reserves where less then 26 billion barrels.
    If they are a good predictor of future production all oil production in the United States would have stopped years ago.

    Other examples include Anwar and oil sand (not shale) neither of which are proven reserves in the U.S.
    Although Canada counts it’s oil sands towards it’s reserves and almost any other country would count Anwar.

    Keep in mind the definition of reserves are oil that is technically *and* economically recoverable. Right now, the oil shale is neither.

    That is why I did not include advanced recovery or oil shale in my estimate.
    Basically I just used a very low estimate for undiscovered reserves and proven reserves. I left them for post 2100 production.

    Well, sure, but given that, today, domestic production + canada + mexico imports is only HALF of the daily oil usage in the US, there is a lot of work to be done. And its not as if oil independence hasn;t been a goal for quite some time….

    Actually that is closer to 2/3.

    Conservation implies driving less and doing so in smaller, more efficient vehicles. To date, most Americans, and certainly most American politicians, have shown little real interest in doing that.

    We will soon have a 54 mpg standard in place.
    There are efforts to diversify to natural gas, electricity and biofuels in place as well.
    Heating oil is being replaced by natural gas.
    Not all of these will succeed but each can help.

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  51. By Optimist on December 16, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    DHG @ 1:04: We will soon have a 54 mpg standard in place.
    DHG @ 10:58: Over the next 100 years United States oil production will almost certainly top 150 billion barrels of oil produced, assuming oil prices do not collapse.
    Those two condition have a very small chance of existing together. Pick one. My vote goes for @1:04.

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  52. By Wendell Mercantile on December 16, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    We will soon have a 54 mpg standard in place.  

    DGH and Optimist~

    My main car is now a VW Jetta TDI Sport Wagon.  On the smallish side, but carries five people easily. (I’d guess 80% of the U.S. population could be satisfied and perfetly comfortable woth a similar car.)  I have gotten as high as 53 mpg on highwall trips, and average ~35 mpg around town.

    It wouldn’t take much tweaking to get turbo-diesel powerd cars that average > 54 mpg. (Many already existh in Europe.)

    If I could switch chairs with Obama for an hour, my first act would be to give Lisa Jackson and the EPA some new marching orders on diesel-powered auto cars. I’d also drop a dime on the C.A.R.B. were it in my power.

     

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  53. By Optimist on December 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    I have gotten as high as 53 mpg on highwall trips, and average ~35 mpg around town.

    Agreed, Wendell. Bet it’s more fun to drive than a Prius. Amazing that so few know about this.

    I’m all too aware of the utility of diesel: I drive an old 300D that I feed an 80: 20 blend of WVO and gasoline. So far the only changes I have noticed are a great smell and slightly less acceleration. Seeing as I save about $3/gal right now, I can live with less acceleration. Still goes pretty well, especially uphill.

    What do you have against CARB?

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  54. By paul-n on December 21, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Optimist – while I admire your near free fuel mix, what is the legality (EPa/emissions) of running on that sort of fuel?

     

    @ Wendell – what exactly would you do/say?  The main reason for the lack of diesels is the over zealous emissions standards.

    They are written in terms of NOx per kW/hp, instead of per mile.  And the expensive exhaust treatments make small diesels much more expensive – as the treatment costs the same for a Jetta as for an F-350.  Thius has led to the ridiculous situation of things like a diesel Fiesta or Mini not being allowed beacuse they put out more NOx perkW than the F350, but since they use 1/4 of the fuel, their NOx per mile is actually much lower.

    The domestic automakers have quietly supported this status quo for some time.

    While you’re in the chair, how about making the second thing you do to repeal the Chicken Tax, so that the small diesel pickups available in the rest of the world, can be sold here.

    It is amazing to think that this ridiculous tax is still in place 40yrs later.  It has cost America a LOT of oil over those years…

     

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  55. By Chaz on December 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Your comment about emission standards for diesel passenger cars is totally incorrect.  NOx, hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter emissions for passenger cars and other light-duty veihicles are regulated based on mass per mile and not mass per kilowatt-hr or horsepower-hr.  This is true in the US, Canada, Japan, and Europe.  Tailpipe emissions are based on tests made on vehicles which are running on a chassis dynamometer.

     

    Most heavy duty vehicles (generally over 8,500 lbs) are regulated on a mass per kWh or bhp-hr basis.  In these cases, the engines are tested on an engine dynamometer.

     

    The main reason why passenger diesel car emission systems are more expensive than gasoline systems is the need for diesel particulate filters (DPF’s) to remove diesel soot, and additional technology to reduce NOx.  Diesel soot is proven to be harmful to human health.  DPF’s have been included on US heavy duty trucks since 2007, and on diesel passenger cars today.  To reach very low NOx levels, diesel after-treatment also requires a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology which uses aqueous urea solution with a catalyst to reduce NOx to N2.  Some passenger cars use another technology called LNT to reduce NOx.  LNT uses some additional diesel fuel to assist in the reduction of NOx.

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