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By Robert Rapier on Apr 9, 2007 with 2 responses

TDP: The Next Big Thing

If you are a layperson, it may not be clear to you just how much of the current infatuation with cellulosic ethanol is hype, and how much is based on realistic assessments. So, I thought I would take you down memory lane and revisit another technology that was going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The Hype: TDP Will Save the WorldIn May of 2003, Discover Magazine published Anything Into Oil. It was a look at a technology called thermal depolymerization (TDP), which could take any organic material and turn it into oil. This was a high profile write-up with a lot of hype, and the technology of Brian Appel and his company Changing World Technologies (CWT) was really… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Apr 6, 2007 with no responses

Now For Something Totally Different

I just unexpectedly spent the last 2 nights in the hospital here in Aberdeen. I went to bed Wednesday night, but then woke up about 2 hours later in excruciating pain. It was so bad that I passed out twice from the pain – and I have a very high pain tolerance. I have never experienced anything like this, and I really thought the pain might kill me from shock. Since I am living alone at the moment (my family comes over this summer), it was apparent to me that I could not continue to gamble that the pain would stop any time soon. (In hindsight, I was correct about that). But of course in the U.S., we always have… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Apr 4, 2007 with no responses

This Week in Petroleum 4-4-07

I don’t think I have ever seen the forecasters miss the estimate this badly. They were forecasting a 300,000 barrel decline in gasoline stocks, and instead got a 5 million barrel decline. For the first time in a long time, inventories are now in the lower half of the normal range. Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending March 30, 2007 Here was CNN’s take on it: Oil prices swing wildly on Iran, gasoline In its report, the Energy Information Administration said gasoline stocks, closely watched ahead of the summer driving season, plummeted by 5 million barrels. Analysts were looking for a small drop of just 300,000 barrels, according to Reuters. The fall in gasoline supplies pushed gasoline… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Apr 1, 2007 with no responses

API Conference Call on Energy Issues

I am generally not much for procrastination, but in this case I am guilty. It has been 3 weeks now since I participated in a conference call with API Chief Economist John Felmy. Robert Bluey, one of the participants, wrote up some comments immediately afterward at his blog. I had intended to do the same, but one thing or another has distracted me until now. I will post some of Bluey’s comments, because all of the pertinent links are there. Just a bit of background. I did not know that there would only be a few of us participating, or I would have spent more time considering my questions. For all I knew, there would be 50 people on the… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 30, 2007 with no responses

My Thoughts on the GAO Report on Peak Oil

As I mentioned yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report addressing future energy supplies in the U.S.: Uncertainty about Future Oil Supply Makes It Important to Develop a Strategy for Addressing a Peak and Decline in Oil Production (1.1 meg PDF warning) The report is getting a good deal of mainstream media coverage. I believe that there is something of value in the report for everyone, and there are a number of lessons we need to take away from it. Let’s start with Results in Brief: Most studies estimate that oil production will peak sometime between now and 2040, although many of these projections cover a wide range of time, including two studies for which the range… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 29, 2007 with no responses

GAO Addresses Peak Oil

This is probably not news to anyone at this point, but the Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released probably the most mainstream discussion of the implications of peak oil ever: Uncertainty about Future Oil Supply Makes It Important to Develop a Strategy for Addressing a Peak and Decline in Oil Production (1.1 meg PDF warning) I will address this a bit tomorrow, but I know some ethanol boosters aren’t going to be happy with this claim from the first page: For example, although corn ethanol production is technically feasible, it is more expensive to produce than gasoline and will require costly investments in infrastructure, such as pipelines and storage tanks, before it can become widely available as a primary fuel…. Continue»

By Robert Rapier on with no responses

This Week in Petroleum 3-28-07

The supply situation is quickly coming to a head, and many questions will be answered in the coming weeks. Will OPEC increase oil production? Can they? Will there be any relief from rising gasoline prices? Will gasoline demand remain strong in the face of the recent price spike? The trend at this time of the year – because some refineries are offline for maintenance – is that crude stocks are generally rising and gasoline is generally falling. (The trend for distillates is very dependent upon the weather). That has been the trend for several weeks, but this week crude oil inventories dipped slightly. This will happen as refineries start to come out of turnarounds, with the trend of falling crude… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 27, 2007 with 8 responses

The Logistics Problem of Cellulosic Ethanol

Update: This article got a mention in today’s Wall Street Journal Energy Roundup. ————————– In my essay Cellulosic Ethanol Reality Check, I identified several big challenges that must be addressed before cellulosic ethanol is commercially feasible. One of these is the logistics problem, and a recent story in the Omaha World-Herald emphasizes the point: The future is not now for biomass ethanol industry The article describes the logistics challenges for a single ethanol plant: The logistics of collecting and storing a million tons of corn stubble each year for an ethanol refinery are mind-numbing. It would take 67,000 semitrailer loads to haul the baled stubble out of the field. That’s 187 truckloads a day, or one every eight minutes. To… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on with no responses

More on Hot Gas Lawsuit

I really love my Site Meter at the bottom of the page. I check it most days, and it gives me a lot of good information about who is linking to the site and where they are coming from. Incidentally, you can access the same information I can see by clicking on it. Anyway, a few days ago I wrote Hot Gas Lawsuit in Utah. It is about a class action lawsuit that claims that oil companies are making a killing from overcharging customers because gas expands in the summer. According to my Site Meter, I was getting some hits on this article, which I ultimately tracked back to here. The discussion was fine, until one of my beloved fringe… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 26, 2007 with no responses

Is Peak Oil a Belief, Theory, or Fact?

One of the comments by KingofKaty that followed my essay Peak Oil and the Lunatic Fringe brought up something that is worth addressing, because it comes up pretty frequently. The phrase of interest was “you believe in peak oil.” I have heard peak called a belief , a theory, or just an observation. In fact, all three descriptions apply depending on the situation, but it is important to clarify what’s what. And I want to make it clear that even though I “believe in peak oil”, it is not in the same context as one would “believe in the tooth fairy.” Peak Oil as Observation Peak oil is an observation, in that we have observed many regions of the world… Continue»