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By Robert Rapier on Feb 14, 2012 with 27 responses

Butanol & Natural Gas Reserves — R-Squared Energy TV Ep. 12

In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV, I answer questions about butanol and natural reserves. I had intended to discuss the Open Fuel Standard when talking about butanol, but ultimately did not. I will get to that in an upcoming episode.

Some of the topics discussed are:

  • Why butanol is not widely available as an alternative fuel
  • How butanol is made
  • Whether $100/bbl oil signals peak oil
  • What I think $2.50/MMBTU natural gas signifies


Readers who have specific questions can send them to ask [at] consumerenergyreport [dot] com or leave the question after this post (at the original source). Consider subscribing to our YouTube channel where you’ll be able to view past and future videos.

Link to Original Article: Butanol & Natural Gas Reserves — R-Squared Energy TV Ep. 12

By Robert Rapier

  1. By Tom G. on February 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Thank you Robert for answering my question.

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  2. By Ben on February 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Butanol/Biobutanol are lovely in theory; theory often breaks down in practice.
    Gevo is trading around $10 after post-issuance highs of $26 (during much gloomier market conditions). One wonders how this plays out (as with the other aspirants competing in the very same space) given that
    distiller’s grains offer only so much offset (there aren’t too many
    Land O’ Lakes out there) until “drop-in” cost comparables create a
    new set of assumptions. I concur with RR–put me down on the skeptical
    side of prsopects for any near-term efficacy. Hey, if you’ve got tens of millions to play with (annually), well, there just might be gold in them thar hills! In the interim, look for things that are easier/cheaper to dehydrate:)

    Ben

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    • By Robert Rapier on February 15, 2012 at 11:46 pm

      Gevo is trading around $10 after post-issuance highs of $26 (during much gloomier market conditions).


      I think that’s why all of these companies suddenly starting looking at jet fuel; they know they can’t make money competing with gasoline.

      RR

      P.S. I also just wanted to test out our new format and see how it was working. 

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      • By Ben on February 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm

        Precisely, but isn’t it a trick to get into the game via subsidies courtesy of the public treasury.  Hey, that beats the heck out of finding investors who actually expect a ROI for their capital:)  
        Ben
         
           

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  3. By mac on February 16, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Heading for natural gas ?

    In an interview on CNBC, T Boone Pickens and the CEO of Navistar, the big truck builder discuss Navistar’s plan to offer trucks that will run on natural gas. Pickens investment group is apparently financing the construction of 100 natural gas refueling stations (already under construction) along select Interstate corridors.  The Navistar CEO says demand for the new trucks is “over the top”

    To quote Pickens:

    “You’re saving $1.50 a gallon” using natural
    gas”……. “Some of these trucks are running 20,000 to 30,000
    gallons a year. The return on it is great. It’s cleaner by 30 percent
    over diesel, but (the fuel) is also ours. It’s abundant and it’s
    domestic.””Using natural gas “completely cuts out OPEC,” . “That’s what I’m after.” ——————————————————————————————————-Link to video interview
    http://www.cnbc.com/id/46221132

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  4. By mac on February 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Apparently. there are others who like  the idea of nat gas, besides Pickens…….

    Here’s one:

    http://gas2.org/2011/08/28/ictc-to-build-natural-gas-corridor-from-ut-to-ca-to-nv-video/

    ICTC to Build Natural Gas Corridor from UT to CA to NV (video)Source: Gas 2.0 (http://s.tt/138os)

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  5. By OD on February 17, 2012 at 4:01 am

    I wish we had firm numbers on what US natural gas reserves actually are. They seem to vary greatly depending on who you listen to. 
    Changing from one finite source to another, seems analogous to rebuilding one’s home in a hurricane prone region. It is only a matter of time before the crises returns. . 

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  6. By Cheryl on February 17, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Robert,

    I was wondering if you’ve seen the following, and if so, what your thoughts are

    http://www.businessinsider.com/a-peak-oil-professor-debates-shells-former-ceo-on-the-subject-of-peak-oil-2012-2

    Thank you

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    • By Robert Rapier on February 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Cheryl,

      I knew about the debate, but haven’t actually watched it. It always seemed to me that Hofmeister was also a person who was sounding a warning about future oil supplies (due to strong demand), so it isn’t really clear to me what these guys were debating. I think both agree that we have a problem. If the debate is whether a physical peak is imminent, then that isn’t as interesting given that both guys acknowledge a problem in any case.
      RR
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  7. By Benny BND Cole on February 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    OT but the great surge in crude oil demand from China may never happen.  What if they drill for shale gas and go to EV or PHEVs? 

    VW plans to start EV production in China in 2014 – exec
    inShareShare thisEmailPrintRelated NewsAuto sales in January show unusual strengthWed, Feb 1 2012UPDATE 2-China’s SAIC Motor f’casts over 40 pct rise in 2011 profitTue, Jan 31 2012GM regains crown as world’s top-selling automakerFri, Jan 20 2012
    BEIJING | Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:55pm ESTFeb 14 (Reuters) – Volkswagen AG’s two joint ventures in China plan to start making electric cars in 2014 and to ramp up to mass production by 2018, its China chief said on Tuesday.Initial EV output at Shanghai Volkswagen and FAW Volkswagen was estimated at a few thousand vehicles, rising to 100,000 by 2018, the president and chief executive of Volkswagen’s China operations, Karl-Thomas Neumann, told an EU-China business convention in Beijing.E-vehicles have so far been limited by cost batteries, and a lack of economies of scale and models considered appealing to car buyers, but Neumann said they were needed to reduce China’s pollution and reliance on oil.”I am convinced e-vehicles will be a success in China because I think it is desperately needed,” he told the convention.He added that Volkswagen, which has partnerships with SAIC Motor Corp and FAW Group in China, would launch its first plug-in hybrid here in 2015.

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  8. By mac on February 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    More LNG news — this time from Shell Canada. 

    Shell sees long-term future for LNG and hopes Alberta project will prove the case
    Lou Smyrlis

    2012-02-09

    PARK
    CITY, Utah – Shell sees a long-term future in natural gas as a viable
    option for transportation and an Alberta project is figuring prominently
    in the company’s plans to show fleets the potential for this
    alternative to diesel fuel. Shell’s Canadian Green Corridor, the
    company’s first large scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in North
    America, launches this March. Initially employing a mobile refueling
    unit to service the needs of fleets running the Edmonton to Calgary
    corridor, the company also has agreements in place with three Flying J
    stations in the corridor for them to supply LNG starting in the third
    quarter of this year. By the third quarter of next year Shell plans to
    be supplying LNG to the network from its own LNG plant at the Jumping
    Pound facility about 30 kilometers west of Calgary. The new plant would
    produce 0.3 megatonnes per year of LNG, natural gas that is supercooled
    into liquid form. Until the plant is operational, a third-party
    distributor will be providing the LNG. And Shell’s aspirations
    for converting the trucking industry to LNG don’t stop with this
    project. It is ready to build the infrastructure beyond this corridor if
    there is sufficient interest. “We are not stopping with this
    project. If you are going to be in this market, you’ve got to be in it.
    We have aspirations to go all the way to the West Coast,” said James
    Burns, general manager, LNG transport Americas at a press briefing. This
    year will mark the first time that Shell’s (Shell Canada) natural gas production will
    outpace its oil production and Burns says the company sees that trend
    continuing.

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  9. By mac on February 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Hats off to Ben Cole who has often mentioned CNG and LNG for several years,  as alternatives to the “Oil Only” syndrome. (refining crude into gasoline or diesel)

    96% of Europe’s transportation infrastructure is crude oil dependent,  The U.S. is at 98%

    The Problem is NOT the Oil Companies……

    And yet the problem really IS the oil companies, or rather their seemingly prevalent attitude that crude is so essential to world infra-structure and prosperity that we cannot do without it.

    To the contrary, we can do without Oil Only..……………

    If major oil companies such as Shell Canada want to capture the evolving LNG market, that’s fine by me. 

    The whole idea is to get us off the   “crude only’ syndrome with consequent  OPEC price vetoes and various manipulations.
     
    Electric cars that run on domestically produced electricity,  and  CNG /LNG vehicles that run on domestic natural gas resources accomplish that,.

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  10. By mac on February 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    What if …………………????

    What if the major oil companies decided to buy up the entire electric grid (and put an end to electric cars)

    This is a possibility that will never happen, given U.S. anti-trust and monopoly laws and the widespread hatred and disgust with oil companies in  general.

    That said, even if Big Oil bought out the entire electric grid, don’t you think that their perspective might change ?

     If Big Oil owned all the ethanol refineries, don’t you think that they might suddenly become interested in promoting ethanol or if Big Oil suddenly possessed the entire electric grid, that they might become interested in promoting electric cars ?

    I suspect that “Oil Only”  is just about over,

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  11. By mac on February 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    We do not call the 18th and 19th  Mechanical Revolution  the “Coal Age”
    Neither will the 20th Century be called the Oil Age,

     It was in reality,  the age of electronics and electricity, over and above oil, nuclear and all other competitors.

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  12. By art on February 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    with gasoline prices of  8,5 dollar per gallon at the tankstation here in Europe  butanol and biobutanol may become more competative within years…..
    so  i wonder is the biobutanol route better scalable?  bioethanol certainly is NOT if you think about logistics of transporting the feedstocks fermentation…..
     if i understand biofuel:  no matter whether you convert biomass in methane, ethanol, butanol of biodiesel;  the enormous amounts of biomass to maintain our current fuel consumption are the problem……just like wind or solar, the surface footprint footprint is an issue… 
     

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  13. By perry1961 on February 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Natural gas might well be a short term solution, but it’s no panacea. A 100 yr. supply could easily become something to burn through in 20 years or less. Widespread adoption for transportation could easily bring demand for NG from 20 TCF to 100 or more TCF annually. Also, there’s the matter of what happens when the current glut comes to an end. Keep in mind that NG prices were 4X higher just 4 years ago. Eventually, a barrel equivalent of NG will cost close to what a barrel of oil does.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t depend more on NG. Just saying it’s a short term solution.

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  14. By mac on February 17, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Perry said in regard to nat gas and nat gas vehicles

    “Just saying it’s a short term solution.” 

    —————————————————————————–

    Pickens has said  himself  said that nat gas is a short term solution.

    For Pickens, the long term solution is that we eventually transition away from short term nat gas vehicles to hydrogen.fuel cell vehicles.

    Unfortunately,  95% of all hydrogen is produced from nat gas. Pickens, in essence, is  suggesting  that we proceed from a stop gap short-term dependence on  CNG and LNG into a long tern natural gas fixation just like our present oil fixation ,

    Gee whiz……………….

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    • By Paul N on February 17, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      Sure, LNG/CNG is a short term solution – probably less than 50yrs –  but that doesn’t mean it is not a good one – for certain situations.
      There is lots of opportunity to use NG for buses, heavy trucks and railroads.   The implementation cost is relatively low, the technology is proven, and the ROI is pretty good (for high milage commercial vehicles).
      If the railroads electrify in 10-20yrs, and the payback for LNG is five, then it is worth doing.  Buses and long haul trucks can;t (effectively) electrify, so this is their best bet (along with hybrid systems for the buses).
      H2 fuel cells are like H fusion – always five years away.
      Well, not quite, actually.  I have an H2 fuel cell bus (only fleet in the world) that runs past my window every 15minutes.  A great “demonstration project” that has demonstrated the technology *and the fuel* is so expensive that it is not worth doing.  For the cost of the project they could have converted 100x as many buses to CNG and had far more economic and environmental benefit.
      Best hopes for pragmatic solutions…

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  15. By mac on February 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Thank to Cheryl for the Hoffmeister – Patzek debate link. http://www.businessinsider.com/a-peak-oil-professor-debates-shells-former-ceo-on-the-subject-of-peak-
      ———————————————————————————————————

    Hoffmeister,  former President of Shell Oil said among other things

    “I am all in favor of abandoning the internal combustion  engine.”

    And later Hoffmeister says in the course of the debate:

    “We need to get rid of the internal combustion engine.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself……………..I have said exactly the same on R-Squared for years.

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  16. By Ben on February 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    We need to stop looking at a reinvented energy framework as fossil fuels or renewables when the choice has always involved “and.”  To the extent that domestic NG offers us additional latitude (short or long-term) on the fossil fuels side of the equation, great!   Its use is a foregone conclusion; it simply comes down to “how much?” and “at what price?” 
    An issue that merits closer scrutiny is what role GTL (much as with CTL) will play as the price of oil remains consistently above recent levels and given the crude/NG price decoupling of the past year.  Increasingly, stranded gas is offering viability particulary against the backdrop of carbon-reduction requirements.  New modular, micro-scaling technologies introduce new options that have been outside the ambit of traditional oil/gas operations at remote sites lacking applicable transport infrastructure.  There are several engineering/material science developments  contributing to the efficacy of a GTL business model, as with similar gains involving CTL and to a lesser extent, BTL.  While hardly a panacea, such progress introduces the prospect of adding to our liquid fuels mix while also offering relief on any potential supply interruptions during these perilous times of political uncertainty/economic instability.  We will do well to monitor/encourage these developments as an integral part of an ongoing revision to our national energy equation.
    Ben                  

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  17. By mac on February 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Ben said:

    There are several engineering/material science developments 
    contributing to the efficacy of a GTL business model, as with similar
    gains involving CTL and to a lesser extent, BTL.  While hardly a
    panacea, such progress introduces the prospect of adding to our liquid
    fuels mix while also offering relief on any potential supply
    interruptions during these perilous times of political
    uncertainty/economic instability.  We will do well to monitor/encourage
    these developments as an integral part of an ongoing revision to our
    national energy equation.
    ——————————————————————————————————

    True enough,

    If we want to continue with the ICE, these fuels sources bear looking into.  My main thought is that we need to diversify our transportation infra-structure away from an Oil Only mentality. (i.e. diesel and petrol derived from crude)

    To that end, we see increasing interest in using LNG  for the long haul trucking industry.

    While CTL, GTL and biomass to liquids are certainly possibilities, they are still relatively expensive vis-a-vis petroleum distillates like diesel and gasoline.  That situation may well change in the relatively near term as gasoline prices may go into orbit.,

    There are indeed alternative fuels for the internal combustion engine. 

    Then, of course, there are electric motors at about 90-95 % efficiency. versus a standard ice at about 25-30% and a turbo-charged, fuel injected diesel at perhaps 35-40%

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    • By Ben on February 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm

      Mac
      Can’t say that I’m biased toward ICE; I’ve roundly applauded the progress of EVs in this space on more than one occasion.  The likelihood of electric or fuel cell vehicles markedly displacing ICE anytime soon (absent 200 bbl oil) is, however, rather remote.  LNG can/will play a role in the future mix and, with a ready acknowledgment of the efficiencies that you’ve cited, above, there’s real logic in embracing an EROEI assessment as a bottom line in which investments deserve much of our attention.    
      Diesel from methane poses plenty of options and good ole biogas introduces options that have made sense in rural economies for a long time even as they might backstop iinovative distributive networks that are increasingly attractive at sustained $100 oil let alone anything approaching twice that value.
      This blog offers a solid forum for fleshing out the art of the possible–unlike say the forums over on both sides of Capitol Hill:) 
       Ben

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  18. By mac on February 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Ben said:

    Diesel from methane poses plenty of options and good ole biogas
    introduces options that have made sense in rural economies for a long
    time even as they might backstop iinovative distributive networks
    that are increasingly attractive at sustained $100 oil let alone
    anything approaching twice that value.

    ——————————————————————————————————
    Well, I would think that as crude oil might approach  $200  a barrel ,  we would find other alternatives such as LNG refueling networks for the trucking industry

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  19. By Optimist on February 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Mac & Ben,
    I blame the politicians by default. Their central failure is to grasp that what America needs is diversity of fuel feedstocks, or what Ben called the “and” approach.
    When you see the need to diversify, it clarifies many issues:
    1. Let’s buy all the Brazilian ethanol they’ll sell us. It won’t replace OPEC, but it’s another source.
    2. Approve Keystone already, it’s another source. From a friendly governement, no less.
    3. Encourage CNG: it’s a domestic source, for crying out load.
    4. Encourage (rather than discourage) Big Oil to use renewable feedstocks, such as the infamous Tyson-ConocoPhillips venture. Big Oil will eventually own the renewable fuel sector, the sooner they buy into it, the better.
    5. Let’s stop pretending “renewable fuel” means ethanol: it’s only one source.

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  20. By mac on March 4, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Ben Cole already told you this years ago regarding cng/lng. 

    Uhh, well,  errr….duhh….

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  21. By mac on March 4, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Sam.

    I am sorry. I   forgot that the decorum of R-Squared revolves around de-bunking ethanol and other alternatives to gasoline.

    My mistake.

     

    Oce

     

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    • By Robert Rapier on March 5, 2012 at 12:29 am

      Mac, I think we have been here before. You have posted a number of posts over the past couple of weeks that are increasingly nonsensical. I think I know what that means. Please take time to think before you post. 

      RR

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