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By Robert Rapier on Jan 21, 2007 with no responses

Key Questions on Energy Options

A question was recently posed to me: What is the most important question concerning ethanol production? That got me to thinking about important questions regarding not only ethanol, but all of our energy sources. There are a number of issues that we must carefully consider for any of our potential energy sources. In my opinion, they are: 1. Is the energy source sustainable? 2. What are the potential negative externalities of producing/using this energy source? 3. What is the EROEI? 4. Is it affordable? 5. Are there better alternatives? 6. Are there other special considerations? 7. In summary, are the advantages of the source large enough to justify any negative consequences? For the purposes of this essay, I want to… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 11, 2007 with no responses

Refining 101: The Assay Essay

When a refinery purchases crude oil, the key piece of information they need to know about that crude, besides price, is what the crude oil assay looks like. There has been a lot of discussion at The Oil Drum at various times about “light sweet”, or “heavy sour”, and how these qualifiers affect the ability of a refiner to turn these crudes into products. So, I thought it would be good to devote an essay to this subject, and discuss how different types of crude can affect a refiner’s bottom line. Below are results from two different assays: Liquid Volume % Generic Light Sweet Generic Heavy Sour Gas (Initial Boiling Point to 99°F) 4.40 3.40 Straight Run (99 to 210°F)… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 10, 2007 with no responses

The $1,000 Bet on Oil Prices

After seeing a number of predictions for very high crude oil prices this year – including many from people who believe that world oil production has peaked and $100/bbl this year is a sure thing – I offered up a $1,000 bet that front month WTI would not reach $100 in 2007. Several people kept telling me what a dangerous bet this was – but none of them would pony up any money. I offered to take on 10 people at $100 each, or someone for the entire $1,000. Well, someone has accepted for the entire $1,000. We have each transferred $1,000 into a Paypal account controlled by one of the personnel at The Oil Drum. If the front month… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 8, 2007 with no responses

GM Revives the Electric Car

Years after GM killed the electric car, they are bringing it back. They introduced a new electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this weekend. Here is what the car looks like: GM’s New Chevrolet Volt The only problem is that they still haven’t invented the battery that will run it. This is expected to come in 2010 or 2012. Forbes recently wrote an article on the car. Some excerpts, explaining why this is an improvement over GM’s earlier efforts: The Chevy Volt is driven by electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries that are charged by plugging the vehicle into a standard 110-volt socket. But the vehicle has a small gasoline-powered generator on… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 4, 2007 with no responses

Distillery Demand for Grain To Fuel Cars Vastly Understated

Earth Policy InstituteEco-Economy UpdateEmbargoed for Release12 pm EST, January 4, 2007 DISTILLERY DEMAND FOR GRAIN TO FUEL CARS VASTLY UNDERSTATED World May Be Facing Highest Grain Prices in History Lester R. Brown Investment in fuel ethanol distilleries has soared since the late-2005 oil price hikes, but data collection in this fast-changing sector has fallen behind. Because of inadequate data collection on the number of new plants under construction, the quantity of grain that will be needed for fuel ethanol distilleries has been vastly understated. Farmers, feeders, food processors, ethanol investors, and grain-importing countries are basing decisions on incomplete data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects that distilleries will require only 60 million tons of corn from the 2008… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 3, 2007 with no responses

My Energy Resolutions for 2007

I will be moving to Scotland by the end of January, and as a result we will be selling our house in the U.S. (as well as both vehicles). This gives me an opportunity to make some positive changes in 2007. Here are my resolutions: 1). I resolve to get the most fuel-efficient car I can find in Scotland.2). I resolve to search for a house that allows me to take public transport or my bike to work.3). I resolve to place a very high priority on energy efficiency as I search for a new house.4). I resolve to reduce the meat in my diet (it takes much more energy to produce meat than to produce vegetables).5). I resolve to… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 21, 2006 with no responses

Book Review: Peak Oil Prep

Peak Oil Prep by Mick Winter For some reason I especially like to read books on Peak Oil, sustainability, and energy issues while traveling. Part of the reason is that traveling always makes me reflective. Part of the reason is that these books are often an ice-breaker that allows me to talk about energy with other travelers. On previous trips I read Jared Diamond’s Collapse and John Howe’s The End of Fossil Energy (reviewed here). On my latest trip I read Mick Winter’s Peak Oil Prep and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. I started reading Peak Oil Prep during my first flight, and while the man sitting across the aisle from me reading the National Enquirer didn’t show much interest… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 19, 2006 with 1 response

A Conversation on Energy Issues

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting my friend and first real Peak Oil influence, Dr. Jerry Unruh. Jerry and I did a bit of mountain climbing, some snowshoeing, watched An Inconvenient Truth (I also read the book while I was there) and spent a lot of time talking about Peak Oil, Global Warming, sustainability, and many other topics. I took a lot of notes as we talked, because we hit on many topics that are often discussed here and at The Oil Drum. First of all, let me introduce Jerry. He is a Ph.D. chemist that I met 11 years ago when we both worked on butanol research and technical support for Celanese Chemicals. While I was certainly… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Dec 14, 2006 with no responses

Out of the Office

I am going to be traveling over the next 5 days and probably unable to respond to comments. I plan on producing 2 essays from my travels. One will be to interview my friend, earth ship owner, and solar energy advocate Jerry Unruh, who was my first major Peak Oil influence and is an advocate on environmental issues. The other will be to review Mick Winter’s Peak Oil Prep, which I plan to read during the trip (between mountain climbing and visiting with Jerry).

By Robert Rapier on Dec 12, 2006 with no responses

Fortune’s 10 Stocks to Buy Now

Fortune has just published their Investor’s Guide 2007. One section of the guide is 10 stocks to buy now. I have made no secret of the fact that I think energy stocks will outperform the market for quite some time. And in fact, there are two energy stocks on their list of ten. One of them is near and dear to my heart , but I will highlight both of them: ConocoPhillips (COP) With oil and natural-gas prices easing from their 2006 peaks, buying into a big energy company might seem dangerous. But barring an unforeseen collapse in commodity prices, ConocoPhillips should turn in a solid performance. Formed by the 2002 merger of midsized oil firms Conoco and Phillips Petroleum,… Continue»