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Author Topic: Energy Politics & Science  (Read 429490 times)
« Reply #150 on: December 01, 2009, 05:34:33 AM »

Plug in Hybrids can also help.  I think we should take our standard approach to the issue, let a bunch of companies try different generation methods and may the best 3-5 companies win.  That would mean a fair anount of deregulation and a certain acceptance of risk in a currently Regulate and Risk averse environment.

On you tube is a Green Power Science video poster.  He uses Fresnel lenses and parabolic mirrors in conjunctio with Sterling Engines to generate power.  If you have a plug in hybrid and one of these setups, you have a means of charging your car up anywhere there is a reasonalbe amount of sunlight.  Northern states would not have the option, but maybe part of the solution is a "regional Generator of Choice" concept.  Solar in the South West, Hydro in the PacNW, Wind in the Plains, and where there is a particular need for highly concentrated generation Nukes.  NewEngland could probably build something to exploit those winter Nor'Easters too.

It just seems that something is standing in the way of letting people figure things out.  Di big corporations have an institutionalized NIH rule?  "If it was not invented here and we do not own the patent, we will not use it" sort of thing?  Apparently corporate America just does not undestrand how rare edison was and cannot bring itself to pay liscensing fees.

Look at the Tesla sports car, lamborghini like performance, but the big auto guys are not all over it.  What gives?

There are Solar and Wind generation tecnologies out there that can power large groups of homes, but new developments are not putting up these Sunflowers and Pinwheels.  What is preventing this?

Independant dairy farners are already using their cattle manure for power generation with methane digesters.  Why aren't municipal sewage facilities installing new equipment that can do this, instead of just adding a new "same old tank".   What is preventing this?

There is so much stuff that can get the job done out there, but it feels like it is being blocked.  Thinning out the energy grid into a distrubuted energy scheme would allow us to have at least localized power for when another Katrina blows thru. 

Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #151 on: December 01, 2009, 10:24:34 AM »

What often prevents these things is the cost.   This includes the question of what to do when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow-- electricity doesn't really "store" well, so a 24/7 system is needed.

Changing subjects:

Follow the Money

Last year, ExxonMobil donated $7 million to a grab-bag of public policy institutes, including the Aspen Institute, the Asia Society and Transparency International. It also gave a combined $125,000 to the Heritage Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis, two conservative think tanks that have offered dissenting views on what until recently was called—without irony—the climate change "consensus."

To read some of the press accounts of these gifts—amounting to about 0.00027% of Exxon's 2008 profits of $45 billion—you might think you'd hit upon the scandal of the age. But thanks to what now goes by the name of climategate, it turns out the real scandal lies elsewhere.

Climategate, as readers of these pages know, concerns some of the world's leading climate scientists working in tandem to block freedom of information requests, blackball dissenting scientists, manipulate the peer-review process, and obscure, destroy or massage inconvenient temperature data—facts that were laid bare by last week's disclosure of thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, or CRU.

But the deeper question is why the scientists behaved this way to begin with, especially since the science behind man-made global warming is said to be firmly settled. To answer the question, it helps to turn the alarmists' follow-the-money methods right back at them.

Consider the case of Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and the man at the heart of climategate. According to one of the documents hacked from his center, between 2000 and 2006 Mr. Jones was the recipient (or co-recipient) of some $19 million worth of research grants, a sixfold increase over what he'd been awarded in the 1990s.

View Full Image

Associated Press
Al Gore wins the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize: Doing well by doing good?
.Why did the money pour in so quickly? Because the climate alarm kept ringing so loudly: The louder the alarm, the greater the sums. And who better to ring it than people like Mr. Jones, one of its likeliest beneficiaries?

Thus, the European Commission's most recent appropriation for climate research comes to nearly $3 billion, and that's not counting funds from the EU's member governments. In the U.S., the House intends to spend $1.3 billion on NASA's climate efforts, $400 million on NOAA's, and another $300 million for the National Science Foundation. The states also have a piece of the action, with California—apparently not feeling bankrupt enough—devoting $600 million to their own climate initiative. In Australia, alarmists have their own Department of Climate Change at their funding disposal.

And all this is only a fraction of the $94 billion that HSBC Bank estimates has been spent globally this year on what it calls "green stimulus"—largely ethanol and other alternative energy schemes—of the kind from which Al Gore and his partners at Kleiner Perkins hope to profit handsomely.

Supply, as we know, creates its own demand. So for every additional billion in government-funded grants (or the tens of millions supplied by foundations like the Pew Charitable Trusts), universities, research institutes, advocacy groups and their various spin-offs and dependents have emerged from the woodwork to receive them.

The Climate Emails
The Economics of Climate Change
Rigging a Climate 'Consensus'
Global Warming With the Lid Off
Climate Science and Candor
.Today these groups form a kind of ecosystem of their own. They include not just old standbys like the Sierra Club or Greenpeace, but also Ozone Action, Clean Air Cool Planet, Americans for Equitable Climate Change Solutions, the Alternative Energy Resources Association, the California Climate Action Registry and so on and on. All of them have been on the receiving end of climate change-related funding, so all of them must believe in the reality (and catastrophic imminence) of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.

None of these outfits is per se corrupt, in the sense that the monies they get are spent on something other than their intended purposes. But they depend on an inherently corrupting premise, namely that the hypothesis on which their livelihood depends has in fact been proved. Absent that proof, everything they represent—including the thousands of jobs they provide—vanishes. This is what's known as a vested interest, and vested interests are an enemy of sound science.

Which brings us back to the climategate scientists, the keepers of the keys to the global warming cathedral. In one of the more telling disclosures from last week, a computer programmer writes of the CRU's temperature database: "I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seems to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. . . . Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight. . . . We can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage!"

This is not the sound of settled science, but of a cracking empirical foundation. And however many billion-dollar edifices may be built on it, sooner or later it is bound to crumble.
« Reply #152 on: December 02, 2009, 05:48:39 AM »

Yeah price does have something to do with it, but in some cases that price is the intangibles of regulations favoring the vested interests.  They are HUGE in this case.  Yes wind and solar are intermittant, but there are ways to store the power.  Pumped Hydro, Compressed Air, and Stored Heat are 3 that have been explored, that is what smart grid stuff is about.

One of the vested inerests that is overlooked is the building industry.  The Energy Star/ LEED/ and other programs are just stop gaps.  Real efforts at efficient home design still get laughed at, less now and more politely done, but it is still there. There are passive solar designs, and other concepts out there that could save large anounts on heating/cooling on houses and buildings.  They are not used because of the upfront cost when they are more economical over time, and are unconventional.

DBMA gets much the same mix from the traditional arts, and their industrial partners, I am sure.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2009, 06:36:09 AM by Rarick » Logged
« Reply #153 on: January 02, 2010, 10:17:53 AM »

When we talk about nuclear energy, what kind are we talking about?
« Reply #154 on: January 15, 2010, 11:30:45 AM »

From Copenhagen's ashes, a better way to fight global warming
By Bjorn Lomborg
Friday, January 15, 2010; A23

COPENHAGEN Even though no one should have been surprised by the outcome of last month's global climate summit in Copenhagen, the lack of any meaningful action unleashed a torrent of angry and disappointed rhetoric. "The outcome of Copenhagen doesn't at all match the needs . . . of mankind," complained Sweden's environment minister. "By delaying action, rich countries have condemned millions of the world's poorest people to hunger, suffering and loss of life," added Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International. And those were some of the milder comments.

Critics, however, should calm down. If anything, the summiteers did the planet a favor by refusing to endorse a binding agreement to drastically reduce carbon emissions. That's because their inability to make progress may be the nudge the international community needs to face the real inconvenient truth: that after nearly two decades of fruitless efforts, it's time to give up our Rio-Kyoto-Copenhagen fantasy and get real about combating global warming.

Two points underlie the issue of global warming: First, developing nations have no intention of letting the developed world force them to stop using carbon-emitting fuels. They are understandably wary of any policy that might curtail the domestic economic growth that is allowing their populations to clamber out of poverty. And that is precisely what drastically reducing their carbon emissions would do.

Second, even for more-developed economies, trying to force drastic cuts in carbon emissions makes no economic sense. All the major climate economic models show that to achieve the much-discussed goal of keeping temperature increases under 2 degrees Celsius, we would need a global tax on carbon emissions that would start at $102 per ton (or about 90 cents per gallon of gasoline) -- and increase to $4,000 per ton (or $35.51 per gallon of gasoline) by the end of the century. In all, this would cost the world $40 trillion a year. Most mainstream calculations conclude that this is 50 times more expensive than the climate damage it seeks to prevent.

In other words, trying to force cuts in carbon emissions is a solution that will cost far more than the problem it is meant to solve. No wonder this option never gained real traction.

So what do we do? Given that global energy demand is expected to double by 2050, the only way to reduce (if not eliminate) our use of fossil fuels without crippling the world economy is to radically ramp up green-energy technologies -- to the point where we can increase our reliance on them by several orders of magnitude. For two decades we have been putting the cart before the horse, pretending that we could cut carbon emissions now and solve the technology problem later. It's time to turn things around. Instead of condemning billions of people to continued poverty by trying to make fossil fuels more expensive, we should make green energy cheaper. This means radically increasing spending on research and development.

In a paper for the Copenhagen Consensus Center last July, Isabel Galiana and Prof. Chris Green of McGill University examined the state of non-carbon-based energy -- including nuclear, wind, solar and geothermal power -- and came to some disconcerting conclusions. Based on current rates of progress, they found that by 2050 our array of alternative energy sources would produce less than half the power we would need from them to be able to stabilize carbon emissions. By 2100, the gap would be even wider. The technology is simply not progressing fast enough in terms of scalability or stability. This should not be surprising. In many areas, there is still a need for the most basic research and development. We are not even close to getting the needed technological revolution started.

But we could be. Devoting just 0.2 percent of global gross domestic product -- roughly $100 billion (70 billion euros) a year -- to green energy R&D would produce the kind of game-changing breakthroughs needed to fuel a carbon-free future. Not only would this be a much less expensive fix than trying to cut carbon emissions, it would also reduce global warming far more quickly.

So let's be grateful that the Copenhagen summiteers were unable to paper over their differences. Their failure should be our wake-up call. After 20 years of getting nowhere, it's time to take a fresh look at the problem and adopt a different approach.

Bjorn Lomborg is director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and the author of "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming."
« Reply #155 on: February 16, 2010, 01:09:55 PM »

Three Big Firms Pull Out of Climate Partnership

WASHINGTON—Three large corporations are quitting the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a broad group of businesses and environmental organizations that has been instrumental in building support in Washington for capping U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases.

Oil giants BP PLC and ConocoPhillips along with Caterpillar, Inc., the Peoria, Ill., heavy-equipment maker, have decided against renewing their membership in the organization, according to a statement released by the group Tuesday.

Red Cavaney, ConocoPhillips senior vice president for government affairs, said USCAP was focused on getting a climate-change bill passed, whereas Conoco is increasingly concerned with what the details of such a bill would be.

"USCAP was starting to do more and more on trying to get a bill out without trying to work as much on the substance of it," Mr. Cavaney said.

In a written statement Tuesday, Caterpillar said it had decided to direct its resources toward the "commercialization of technologies that will promote and provide sustainable development and reduce carbon emissions." The company recently announced it had joined FutureGen Alliance, an organization that has been working to build a coal-fired, near-zero emissions power plant in eastern Illinois.

Spokesmen for ConocoPhillips and BP said their companies remain committed to passing some kind of climate-change legislation, but believe they can accomplish more working outside USCAP's umbrella.

"Our position on this issue is longstanding and is unchanged," BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell said. "What this does is underscore our desire to continue to participate in this important discussion but to do it as BP."

A spokesman for USCAP said the group intends to continue its campaign for legislation that would cap U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. The spokesman said any questions about the companies' reasons for not renewing their memberships would have to be answered by the firms.

"We think there's momentum to get [climate legislation] done," the spokesman, Tad Segal, said. "President Obama's State of the Union address made it clear the administration is behind us."
« Reply #156 on: February 16, 2010, 06:53:46 PM »

Second Post

Drilling Ban To Cost Trillions
Posted 05:58 PM ET
Energy: A new study shows that our reluctance to develop domestic energy will cost the beleaguered U.S. economy trillions in opportunity costs, reduce our gross domestic product and increase our trade deficit.

From trying to stimulate jobs in nonexistent ZIP codes at great expense to worshiping the false gods of climate change, our biggest deficit these days may be in the area of common sense. A new study shows that many of our wounds are self-inflicted as we forgo the wealth and jobs to be found in our waters and under our feet.

The study by Science Applications International Corp. at the request of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, the Gas Technology Institute and others shows the U.S. economy will suffer $2.3 trillion in lost opportunity costs over the next two decades, monies that would go a long way to reining in runaway deficits and creating economic growth.

Critics will say this is another self-serving study paid for by oil industry groups, but unlike the climate change fantasies concocted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Britain's Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, the study's data can survive fact-checking and the conclusions are rooted in reality.

Drilling restrictions in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in offshore areas such as the Chukchi Sea and Outer Continental Shelf, the report says, are denying us access to at least nine years' worth of total U.S. oil and gas consumption.

The U.S. used 22.8 trillion feet of gas and 5.2 billion barrels of oil in 2009. Locked up by federal restrictions are approximately 43 billion barrels of oil and 286 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Without access to these resources, average natural gas prices will rise 17% by 2030 and electricity prices will "necessarily skyrocket," as Barack Obama once said, by 5%.

The net effect of our energy inaction will be a reduction in gross domestic product by $2.36 trillion cumulatively through 2029, or by 0.52% annually. We'd also be forgoing hundreds of thousands of high-paying energy and construction sector jobs here in the U.S. as well as missing a golden opportunity to sharply cut our trade deficit.

These are not climate fantasies derived by running faulty assumptions and bad data through inaccurate computer models. This is simple math, common sense and Economics 101. Energy is expensive. We're leaving vast amounts in the ground while importing it from others. In a word: duh.

Oil accounts for about half our trade deficit. We spend hundreds of billions each year, much of it in borrowed Chinese money, to buy oil from abroad while we let ours sit in the ground. We depend on the world's petrotyrants, including Russia's Vladimir Putin, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who are all too willing to use their energy wealth as a weapon.

President Obama announced on Tuesday an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help build two nuclear reactors, a move that hopefully will invigorate the nuclear power industry after nearly three decades in which no new plants have been built. We applaud the move, but suspect it's being done more to advance the chance for cap-and-trade legislation than to achieve energy independence.

We back an all-of-the-above approach and so, apparently, do the American people. Comments on a Bush-era rule to expand domestic drilling, held up by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, ran 2-to-1 in favor of drilling here and now.

In addition to conventional sources of oil and natural gas, we have vast stores locked up in domestic shale formations. The Barnett Shale rock formations of Texas and Louisiana, the Bakken Shale formation in Montana and North Dakota, and the Marcellus Shale formation running through New York, Pennsylvania and other states may hold as much as 2,000 trillion cubic feet of this clean-burning, domestically produced fuel.

So just why are we leaving this job-creating economic windfall in the ground?
« Reply #157 on: February 17, 2010, 04:33:38 AM »

SAIC Intl.  has some really capable people working with them, I worked with them in Yucca Mountain.  That is a report I would pretty much accept.  I think we have too many special interests or professional protesters getting in the way of getting done what NEEDS to be done.
« Reply #158 on: February 17, 2010, 10:27:23 AM »

3 to 4.3 Billion Bbls of Recoverable Oil Assessed in N. Dakota and Montana’s Bakken Formation
U.S. Geological Survey ^ | 4/10/2008 | Staff

Contact Information: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey Office of Communication 119 National Center Reston, VA 20192

Reston, VA - North Dakota and Montana have an estimated 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in an area known as the Bakken Formation.

A U.S. Geological Survey assessment, released April 10, shows a 25-fold increase in the amount of oil that can be recovered compared to the agency's 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil.

Technically recoverable oil resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources.

New geologic models applied to the Bakken Formation, advances in drilling and production technologies, and recent oil discoveries have resulted in these substantially larger technically recoverable oil volumes. About 105 million barrels of oil were produced from the Bakken Formation by the end of 2007.

The USGS Bakken study was undertaken as part of a nationwide project assessing domestic petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol as required by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 2000.

The Bakken Formation estimate is larger than all other current USGS oil assessments of the lower 48 states and is the largest "continuous" oil accumulation ever assessed by the USGS. A "continuous" oil accumulation means that the oil resource is dispersed throughout a geologic formation rather than existing as discrete, localized occurrences. The next largest "continuous" oil accumulation in the U.S. is in the Austin Chalk of Texas and Louisiana, with an undiscovered estimate of 1.0 billions of barrels of technically recoverable oil.

"It is clear that the Bakken formation contains a significant amount of oil - the question is how much of that oil is recoverable using today's technology?" said Senator Byron Dorgan, of North Dakota. "To get an answer to this important question, I requested that the U.S. Geological Survey complete this study, which will provide an up-to-date estimate on the amount of technically recoverable oil resources in the Bakken Shale formation."

The USGS estimate of 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil has a mean value of 3.65 billion barrels. Scientists conducted detailed studies in stratigraphy and structural geology and the modeling of petroleum geochemistry. They also combined their findings with historical exploration and production analyses to determine the undiscovered, technically recoverable oil estimates.

USGS worked with the North Dakota Geological Survey, a number of petroleum industry companies and independents, universities and other experts to develop a geological understanding of the Bakken Formation. These groups provided critical information and feedback on geological and engineering concepts important to building the geologic and production models used in the assessment.

Five continuous assessment units (AU) were identified and assessed in the Bakken Formation of North Dakota and Montana - the Elm Coulee-Billings Nose AU, the Central Basin-Poplar Dome AU, the Nesson-Little Knife Structural AU, the Eastern Expulsion Threshold AU, and the Northwest Expulsion Threshold AU.

At the time of the assessment, a limited number of wells have produced oil from three of the assessments units in Central Basin-Poplar Dome, Eastern Expulsion Threshold, and Northwest Expulsion Threshold. The Elm Coulee oil field in Montana, discovered in 2000, has produced about 65 million barrels of the 105 million barrels of oil recovered from the Bakken Formation.

Results of the assessment can be found at

For a podcast interview with scientists about the Bakken Formation, listen to episode 38 of CoreCast at

USGS provides science for a changing world. For more information, visit

Subscribe to USGS News Releases via our electronic mailing list or RSS feed.

**** ****

Links and contacts within this release are valid at the time of publication.
« Reply #159 on: March 05, 2010, 10:45:27 PM »

The Inevitable Failure (by Design) of Cap and Trade
Posted By William M. Briggs On March 3, 2010 @ 12:03 am In Column 2, Money, US News | 10 Comments

When Scott Brown (R-MA) won his Senate seat, swept into office by his promise of becoming the Senate’s “filibuster breaker,” a lot of people said: “Whew! Now I don’t have to worry about that atrocious health-tax bill, or that cap and trade monstrosity!”

That just shows how euphoria clouds the mind. Because as soon as Republicans began celebrating, Democrats started furtively passing sealed manila folders to one another while making shushing sounds.

Republican elation didn’t last long. There was a distinct feeling of shock when President Obama let slip that health care was “still on the table.” And not just on the table, but that it would wend its way through the Senate via reconciliation [1], doubtlessly gathering an encrustation of rancid pork as it rolled along.

Well chum, sit down. Because the same thing is happening with the greenhouse gas limiting bill: the cap and trade … and tax, and might as well spend. It, too, has risen from the dead.

Only it never was dead, of course. It was just in hiding, waiting, and now is under active revision with the leadership of John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

At this writing, the public doesn’t know exactly what measures will be adopted in the revised Senate bill, but we can make some intelligent guesses. The first being that the law of unintended consequences is set to strike once more.

Suppose, as is not likely, that it is true that humans are untowardly affecting the climate such that temperatures are everywhere increasing, and that those increasing temperatures are everywhere devastating or harmful and nowhere helpful. Suppose, too, that these temperature increases are directly caused by controllable greenhouse gas emissions, and that if these emissions can be reduced by a few percentage points, temperatures will not everywhere increase nor be everywhere harmful.

Suppose all that is true. Cap and trade is still a bad idea.

We know that greenhouse gas emissions (GGEs) can be reduced in two ways: by requiring utilities to cap production or engage in sequestration; or by requiring from others limitations on demand.

To limit demand, Congress could mandate citizens drive no faster than 55 miles per hour. That happened before in response to another energy “crisis,” so it is rational to believe it could happen again. Congress might also dabble with forcing rental car companies to use only “energy efficient” (i.e., more expensive) cars.

Perhaps Congress could require transportation companies to prove that some function of “miles traveled,” adjusted by fuel type, vehicle weight, and so forth, holds steady or falls. Or manufacturers will be taxed for exceeding energy-use “goals” (which will be set as a function of the influence of each firm’s senators).

Limiting demand will increase costs, which would have to be spread across the economy. Plus, these are costs with no return on investment — except, possibly, a slightly cooler Earth. Also, any limit strategy will barely put a dent in GGEs, so that even the temperature-ROI is trivial.

Limiting production is straightforward: simply cap allowable GGEs. A mixed strategy of sequestration and sliding caps is also plausible. Utilities will likely be allowed to exceed caps by paying an “offset” tax.

If that is true, then the amount of GGEs will not fall, but will continue their steady increase. The law will then have abandoned its original intent. If it is false — if there are just simple caps and no tax — then the entire American economy will be hamstrung.

This is because there is no way enough nuclear, wind, or solar plants can come on line in any reasonable amount of time to make up for the losses in GGE-based energy. Thus, with just a cap and no tax, Congress will have mandated, “Produce this much, and no more.”

Now, since even Senator Kerry can understand that much economics, it is very likely we’ll see a tax-based bill.

There are hints that a portion of that energy tax will be shunted to the Highway Trust Fund, the agency responsible for the upkeep of interstate freeways. Look forward to fresh paint on the dividing lines and other forms of pork if this bill passes.

Some of the money will have to be put towards non-GGE energy production, both in research and in capital projects.

Who’s going to do the research? Energy companies do it now, of course, and they’ll likely do so in the future.

This means the government will tax energy companies, spend money on a bureaucracy charged with oversight of the tax, siphon some of that money off for “special projects,” and then give a fraction of the money back to companies to research and build non-GGE-based energy platforms. Efficient, no?

In other words, energy companies will be forced to raise rates to pay for the tax — with all the negative consequences that entails — or they will be forced to spend less money on research. Either way, GGEs will not fall. And because research will have been hampered, the introduction of new technology will be delayed.

Thus, in the name of good intentions, cap and trade will cause the harm which it seeks to eliminate.

And you can bet your mother’s cookies that there will be no provision in the bill for it to dissolve if it is discovered that all those suppositions above are proved to be false.

Article printed from Pajamas Media:

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Power User
Posts: 15530

« Reply #160 on: April 13, 2010, 09:01:47 AM »

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The Coming Oil Shortage?

It hasn't received much play on this side of the Atlantic (oddly enough), but the U.S. military is warning of a severe oil shortage by 2015.

According to a new study produced by Norfolk-based Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), the current surplus in oil production could evaporate within two years, leading to potentially crippling shortages by the middle of this decade.

The U.K. Guardian reports the assessment was forwarded by JFCOM's Commander, Marine Corps General James Mattis. His signature underscores the importance of the study, since a MAJCOM commander typically doesn't "sign out" all intel reports produced by his organization.
JFCOM analysts believe the global shortage will mushroom quickly, reaching 10 million barrels a day within three years after "peak oil"--the moment when demand permanently exceeds supply.

The consequences of the shortfall would be devastating. As outlined in the JFCOM study:

"While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India."

While the report doesn't address the potential impact on the United States, you don't need to be an energy analyst to understand that $200 a barrel oil would crush any hopes of an economic recovery and severely impact our military--the largest "single" user of energy in the world.

Still, a cautionary note (or two) is in order. While JFCOM strives to provide an "intellectual foundation" for joint force development, the command's expertise in energy intelligence is limited. Meanwhile, the intel community's experts in such matters (based at the CIA and Department of Energy) have either remained silent--at least publicly--or they offer a more optimistic scenario.

Lionel Badal, a researcher in peak oil theories at King's College in London, told the Guardian that DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) has been saying that "peak oil" is still decades away. In light of the JFCOM report, he wonders if DOE is sticking with its rosy scenario.

The military assessment was released as oil surged past $100 a barrel in Great Britain, and retail gasoline prices are approaching $3.00 a gallon in much of the United States. During the shortage that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005, gas climbed to more than $4.00 a gallon in the U.S.; that level is widely considered a "tipping point," when the public demands action to increase supplies.

Unfortunately, there may be little the United States can do to bolster supplies in the current regulatory environment. President Obama recently approved off-shore drilling along portions of the east coast, but the rest of our coastline (and much of Alaska) remains off-limits. Additionally, environmental challenges often delay the opening of new fields for years.

In an unguarded moment on the campaign trail, then-candidate Barack Obama said his only real regret about $4.00 gasoline was that prices reached that level "so quickly." Based on that statement, it stands to reason that some in the administration see much higher energy prices as inevitable--a development that could be used to spur the development of alternative fuels. Never mind that so-called green fuels can't meet our needs for decades to come.
ADDENDUM: The JFCOM study is merely the latest to warn of a coming oil shortage. The Guardian reports that the U.K. Energy Minister convened a meeting with top industrialists two weeks ago, apparently reversing his previous position that peak oil was not a short-term problem. Officials at the Paris-based International Energy Agency have voiced similar concerns, though the organization has (officially) stated that energy supplies will remain sufficient.

It's also worth noting that General Mattis, the commander who put his signature on the controversial report, has a reputation for being blunt--sometimes a little too blunt, as evidenced by his famous remarks about how much "fun" it is to shoot terrorists. This time around, Mattis seems appears willing to stake his reputation and credibility on the report, which goes against the "official" U.S. government position on the issue. If no one else is willing to sound the alarm, Jim Mattis has no qualms about stepping up to the plate.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #161 on: May 02, 2010, 05:32:47 PM »

Most of us here are of the "Drill, baby, drill!" school of thought.  What do we have to say about events in the Gulf of Mexico?
« Reply #162 on: May 03, 2010, 07:36:07 AM »

Need to hear a cause before I start ruminating. MSM has been curiously silent as to one.
Power User
Posts: 15530

« Reply #163 on: May 03, 2010, 08:00:25 AM »

Oil spills suck. Not having oil and gasoline sucks worse. I'm not sure if more could have been done to prevent or mitigate the spill as it's way outside my knowledge base.
Power User
Posts: 15530

« Reply #164 on: May 03, 2010, 08:39:55 AM »

Technology like this would be nice.
Power User
Posts: 15530

« Reply #165 on: May 03, 2010, 09:05:44 AM »

Not the worst, by far.
Power User
Posts: 9464

« Reply #166 on: May 03, 2010, 02:19:40 PM »

"Most of us here are of the "Drill, baby, drill!" school of thought.  What do we have to say about events in the Gulf of Mexico?"

Random thoughts:

When Obama falsely stated he wanted to expand off-shore drilling, everything to do with preventing, curing and containing spills should have been put on fast forward if we are serious about drilling offshore.  We are paying for an 'Environmental Protection Agency' already.  Instead they are working on exhale restriction justifications.

Obama's reaction was to send a team of lawyers to the gulf.  I think he underestimated the seriousness and will regret not making a larger emergency response.  They seem more interested in pinning blame than stopping further damage.

We all drive, Obama flies large jets.  Obama and Biden fly separate jets.  I think Pelosi has a formation of passenger jets with liquor supply jets for commuting.  Everything has costs and risks.  We need to contain those risks and costs, but we can't end supply without ending usage and we aren't ending usage.

ANWAR is not off-shore. Has less risk or different risks but yet we passed on it based on phony wildlife risks.  Middle East involves tanker ships with risk and much of the money goes toward harming our interests.  All sources have their own risk.

As others mentioned, hard to know what to learn from this before we know the cause or the cure.  Looks like the fix will be to drill a new well.  Maybe we should have been geared up to do that in days instead of months.  Why aren't we 12 days into that project right now and near completion (if this is a crisis)?

Nature has oil spills.  A decade for nature to cleanse itself may be an eternity to us, to those who enjoy the beaches etc. but a blip in time for the planet.

We don't stop flying after a plane crash.  We don't stop driving for each fatal crash.  We kill 37,000 per year and keep right on driving.  This catastrophe will need to be repaired and studied.  Presumably oil rigs will be even safer and repairs swifter in the future because of this.

Nuclear has the cleanest, safest track record for energy production yet we can't agree on it here whether to move forward with more.  If commuting energy can move someday to plug in vehicles, we will need more energy on the grid to replace the amount of oil we quit using.
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« Reply #167 on: May 04, 2010, 10:53:11 AM »

EPA has a discretionary budget of over $10 Billion, Dept of Interior -even more.  Off-shore drilling was on the agenda, announced months ago.  A fire boom could have contained 95% of this spill, costs a few hundred thousand.  Not a one anywhere near the gulf.  Feds didn't even know if they owned one; found one in storage.  [Soon this storyline will be your healthcare.]

Despite plan, not a single fire boom on hand on Gulf Coast at time of oil spill
By Ben Raines  May 03, 2010  Source: Alabama Press-Register

(See photo at link) An image provided by Carmi, Ill.-based Elastec/American Marine shows an oil burn being conducted in one of its patented Hydro-Fire Boom systems. The inflatable, fire-resistant, water-cooled boom was developed to contain surface oil and burn it offshore, helping prevent destruction of critical environmentally sensitive shoreline habitats, company officials said.

If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land.

The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand.

April 28, 2010 image made from video released by the Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command, shows an in situ burn in the Gulf of Mexico, in response to the oil spill after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon. The "In-Situ Burn" plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms.

But in order to conduct a successful test burn eight days after the Deepwater Horizon well began releasing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf, officials had to purchase one from a company in Illinois.

When federal officials called, Elastec/American Marine, shipped the only boom it had in stock, Jeff Bohleber, chief financial officer for Elastec, said today.

At federal officials' behest, the company began calling customers in other countries and asking if the U.S. government could borrow their fire booms for a few days, he said.

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour, Bohleber said. That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.

"They said this was the tool of last resort. No, this is absolutely the asset of first use. Get in there and start burning oil before the spill gets out of hand," Bohleber said. "If they had six or seven of these systems in place when this happened and got out there and started burning, it would have significantly lessened the amount of oil that got loose."

In the days after the rig sank, U.S Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the government had all the assets it needed. She did not discuss why officials waited more than a week to conduct a test burn. (Watch video footage of the test burn.)

At the time, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill response coordinator Ron Gouguet -- who helped craft the 1994 plan -- told the Press-Register that officials had pre-approval for burning. "The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away."

Gouguet speculated that burning could have captured 95 percent of the oil as it spilled from the well.

Bohleber said that his company was bringing several fire booms from South America, and he believed the National Response Center discovered that it had one in storage.

Each boom costs a few hundred thousand dollars, Bohleber said, declining to give a specific price.

Made of flame-retardant fabric, each boom has two pumps that push water through its 500-foot length. Two boats tow the U-shaped boom through an oil slick, gathering up about 75,000 gallons of oil at a time. That oil is dragged away from the larger spill, ignited and burns within an hour, he said.

The boom can be used as long as waves are below 3 feet, Bohleber said.

"Because of the complexity of the system and the obvious longer production time to build them, the emphasis is on obtaining and gathering the systems," he said.

Bohleber said his company has conducted numerous tests with the Coast Guard since 1993, and it is now training crews on the use of the boom so workers will be ready when they arrive.

"We're arranging for six to be shipped in. We keep running into delays. Hopefully, they will be here by Wednesday to be available for use on Thursday. Bear in mind, two days ago, we thought they would be here today."
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« Reply #168 on: May 04, 2010, 11:29:08 AM »

From Department of the Interior.  Notice "response" plan.  Stand up comedy must be part of the response.  I am glad to note Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson were so entertained.

Also good to see our government "on top of it from day one":
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« Reply #169 on: May 05, 2010, 12:16:49 PM »

BLITZER: How worried should the folks in Mississippi be right now about the beautiful coastline along the Gulf of Mexico?

BARBOUR: Well, we need to be prepared. My view of this is when you pray for the best, prepare for the worst. But a lot of people are assuming that this is going to be catastrophic, and that is not a safe assumption.

Right now, there's no oil within 50 miles of the Mississippi. Eighty percent of the oil slick, as it's called and appropriately -- 80 percent is literally just sheen or film right on top of -- on top of the water. That is not toxic. It's not particularly damaging.

I mean, we don't want it to come ashore in Mississippi, but it's manageable. It's a manageable problem. Our people on the coast are getting ready.

And I do think a lot of people in the country are being led to believe that this is already some gigantic catastrophe. Well, that's not the case and we're going it try to keep it from ever being the case.

BLITZER: I think what some of those who are really worried hear most, if it isn't contained within the next, you know, few weeks, if it goes on two or three months, it will be a much worse problem for the Gulf of Mexico, for the folks in Louisiana and Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, than the Exxon Valdez spill was in Alaska.

BARBOUR: Well, people say that. And that is certainly a possibility. If the well were to break back open and be flowing and at maximum potential, if it did that for 90 days -- yes, then it could be a terrible catastrophe. That hasn't happened yet, may not happen.

You mentioned the containment dome. There's been great work done in the last 72 hours putting dispersant into the oil right above the wellhead, and it looks like that is breaking up the oil and greatly reducing what comes to the surface.

Look, we're not happy with what's going on by a long shot. But we haven't come to the conclusion that this is a have-to-be catastrophe because it doesn't have to be.

BLITZER: I was just reading a story. The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, says it's time now to stop drilling or at least stop expanding oil drilling off the California coast until they get to the bottom of what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. Would that be wise right now to stop offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?

BARBOUR: Well, it certainly wouldn't be wise to stop the Gulf of Mexico. We've drilled thousands and thousands and thousands of oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. And this -- this collapse and this spill is very, very, very fierce, but it is also one out of thousands of wells that have been drilled. We produce about 30 percent of the nation's oil in the Gulf of Mexico. We produce -- we used to produce about 25 percent of the natural gas. That percentage is declining, but oil drilling in our gulf has been safe 40 years, even through Katrina. Now we've had a terrible accident and incident. We need to get to the bottom of it, but we don't need to shut it down.
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« Reply #170 on: May 05, 2010, 08:09:47 PM »

« Reply #171 on: May 08, 2010, 10:23:50 AM »

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« Reply #172 on: May 18, 2010, 07:29:51 AM »

I must say that I feel sick to my stomach at the environmental disaster that is unfolding in slow motion in the Gulf.

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« Reply #173 on: May 18, 2010, 08:19:41 AM »

The revelation of the oil deep in the ocean which may enter the gulf current is worrisome.  The unknown is always worrisome.  In the 80's if you went to the beach in Texas you would inevitably step in a tar ball.  There was oil on the beach it was part of the way the beach was, normal.  The environment seemed to be in pretty good shape.  The fishing was very good.  You never saw a bird covered in oil.  My point is the gulf is capable of handling some oil.  Now oil on this scale?  We have yet to see massive slicks on the beaches.  I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

An annoying aspect of this fiasco, just one of many, is the government reg limiting the damages BP is liable for, here is a glaring example of how gov't intervention can hurt the industry.  I feel if the gov't had stayed out of it then the liability would have been such that there would have been not 1 failsafe device but 5 or more.  After the 80's the oil companies running the rigs off the coast put these devices in place with some others, not sure what, and the oil on the beaches became very very rare.  They have had 2decades of oil free beaches, a pretty good record.  Of coarse this one oh sht wipes out 2 decades of at a boys!
« Reply #174 on: May 19, 2010, 07:08:35 AM »

The Good Side of Bad News in Europe

Posted by Alan Reynolds

What does the Greco-Euro currency/debt crisis mean for the U.S. economy?

Nearly everyone except the uniquely wise economist John Cochrane assumes very bad “contagion” effects –on U.S. banks, exports and particularly U.S. manufacturing.

This echoes identical anxieties while the world went through a far more dramatic Asian currency crisis after  July 1997,  and a Russian debt crisis the following May.

The most widely ignored effect of that crisis, however, was to depress foreign demand for oil, and thus slash oil prices to U.S. buyers from $25 a barrel in early 1997 to $11 by the end of 1998.

Oil is a major input into the manufacturing process (e.g., chemicals and plastics), and a major cost of distribution (trucks, trains and airplanes).  It is also a major determinant of the cost of all energy sources used in making other goods such as aluminum and paper.   When marginal costs go down, it becomes profitable to expand production.

At the height of the Asian/Russian crises, the table below shows that U.S. manufacturing output  rose by more than 10 percent. It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow somebody some good.

Looking at the same phenomenon from the other side, every recession but one (1960) was preceded by a big increase in the price of oil. For oil importers like the U.S., cheaper oil is definitely better.

During the last big foreign currency/debt crisis, the real growth of U.S. Gross Domestic Purchases (the home-grown portion of GDP) jumped by 4.7% in 1997 and 5.5% in 1998.  Yet the Fed cut interest rates three times in October and November of 1998 because of what was happening in other countries.

The table  show what happened to the price of oil and to U.S. manufacturing from June 1997 to December 1998. The middle column is the price of a barrel of West Texas crude, and the column to the right is the U.S. industrial production index for the manufacturing sector.

1997-06    19.17    87.80
1997-07    19.63    88.12
1997-08    19.93    89.69
1997-09    19.79    90.45
1997-10    21.26    90.98
1997-11    20.17    92.05
1997-12    18.32    92.52
1998-01    16.71    93.36
1998-02    16.06    93.31
1998-03    15.02    93.13
1998-04    15.44    93.68
1998-05    14.86    94.25
1998-06    13.66    93.53
1998-07    14.08    92.96
1998-08    13.36    95.40
1998-09    14.95    95.11
1998-10    14.39    95.96
1998-11    12.85    96.08
1998-12    11.28    96.63

In recent weeks, as the debt and currency problems in Euroland hit the front page, the price of crude oil fell by about 20 percent.

Once again, as in 1997-98, everyone may be watching the wrong ball in the wrong court.
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« Reply #175 on: May 24, 2010, 06:57:00 AM »

I feel sick in my stomach at the ever growing disaster. 

Is BP doing all that it can? 

Should the Feds be doing more?

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« Reply #176 on: May 26, 2010, 02:16:02 PM »

"I feel sick in my stomach at the ever growing disaster. Is BP doing all that it can? Should the Feds be doing more?"

We will know more later.  Maybe they will plug the hole today and then we can reflect on what went wrong.  The filth depresses me too, yet I heard an LSU professor of environmental sciences say that nature leaks this much anyway through the gulf floor but not concentrated in one location like this.  He hated to say aloud that the magical formula for dispersion would be a severe tropical storm (probably coming soon).

Interesting insight from a radio host today (not an energy expert):  We drill sooooo deep and sooooo far from shore because of the past 'success' of environmental extremism.  This spill would be more manageable and solvable if it was more reachable.  I wonder if that is true.

Politically, I would like to know what day (somewhere between day 6 and day 8 ) it was that the Obama defenders began using the phrase "since day one".  When we finally plug it we can ask ourselves why that solution was not ready before the spill or airlifted across the world if necessary on 'day one'.  And why the blowout protectors don't protect against blowouts, while the federal regulators have time for this and money for that - fill in your own wasteful examples - studying the sex habits of female college freshmen, 4 hour erection warnings etc.

I recall that Obama offered to open more offshore drilling about two months prior to this but predicated it on more studies, (a fake, like his effort to send 3 troops to the border).  Alright, valuable time went by even if it was only a couple of months, and millions were spent by these agencies, where are those studies or why were we lied to and who will be fired?  I think you will find that the environmental regulators were viewing porn like the SEC regulators on taxpayer internet connections and corresponding with their friends in the global warming farce crowd and the political lobbies instead of doing the science and regulatory functions they were assigned like reviewing the testing procedures of blowout protectors. 
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« Reply #177 on: May 26, 2010, 07:18:20 PM »

When MSNBC made sure *everyone* knows the ONE is soooo outraged when he said in "private":  "plug the damn hole" all I could think of is the hole I wish could get plugged is the mouthpiece between his ears.
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« Reply #178 on: May 27, 2010, 08:00:37 AM »
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« Reply #179 on: May 27, 2010, 03:27:34 PM »

'Obama said that every morning when he's shaving, his daughter comes in and asks, "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?"'

Who here besides me is old enough to remember Jimmy Carter asking his daughter Amy what was the worst problem facing the world and then using that in a speech??

This guy is such a Jimmy Carter on steroids.
« Reply #180 on: May 28, 2010, 05:13:50 AM »

I see that in a lot of "SOP's" dangerous levels not quantified- so it is a matter of opinion, standard of behavior not described-more matter of opinion.  A lot of answers when corrections or definitions are asked for is "wellll, its common sense!" <walk off in huff over questioned authority>  There is no such thing as common sense- not even common courtesy either.   So there things hang............  Typical bureaucratical shared responsibility will result in a logjam in an emergency/ crisis management situation.  If a Captain at sea cannot step in and get it handled- he should not be a captain.  A crisis Management Team sounds nice on paper but it is really and oxymoron.

That rig worker made a call according to a saftey judgement (shouldn't we get boats moving just in case this situation really develops into a worst case?) and got reprimanded- isn't saftey always first..........?  If levels are defined and standards of behavior are met- there would be no need for a crisis management team or several tons worth of "analysis" paperwork after the fact.  The captain would give the orders and take reports as everyone worked to standard.  Confusion in the lifeboat areas tells me that people were not drilled, and did not KNOW the standard of behavior- go to the proper assigned boat etc.

Pretty much a nasty mess on the rig as the one that ended up in the ocean.  Yes an accident was way past due, but the severity could have been very mitigated if there had been less keystone cops and more crew doing their jobs, eh?
« Reply #181 on: May 28, 2010, 06:18:01 PM »

Unsustainable Energy
Europe’s green economy points the way: down
President Obama’s visit to a California solar plant on Wednesday provided another reminder that the only jobs he seems truly passionate about are “green jobs.” It’s been this way for a long time. Shortly after Election Day, Time reported that, “With the possible exception of Barack Obama’s puppy-anticipating daughters, no one is more eagerly awaiting the incoming Administration than the leaders of the renewable-energy industries.” Obama promised hundreds of billions in new subsidies for renewables during his campaign, and he delivered on that promise once he took office. The solar plant he toured, Solyndra Inc., received a $535 million loan guarantee funded through last year’s stimulus package, which included around $17 billion for such projects.

But despite all the money the Obama administration and its congressional allies have steered toward the clean-energy sector, no sector’s stocks have performed worse over the last year. The latest Goldman Sachs weekly analysis of U.S. market trends revealed that the PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the clean-energy sector, is down 23 percent on the year, worse than any other sector-specific fund in Goldman’s analysis. (The next-worst sector, steel, was only down 16 percent on the year.) If you look for answers as to why such a heavily subsidized sector has suffered such a precipitous drop, you’ll find two: oil prices and Europe.

Most forms of clean tech cannot compete commercially with fossil fuels, which means two things: First, their fortunes are tied to the prices of coal, oil, and natural gas. When those prices rise, clean tech begins to look more attractive as an alternative source of energy; when they fall, so do clean-tech stock prices. Oil prices, which reached $140 a barrel two years ago, have rebounded from their post-financial-crisis lows (around $30 a barrel), but appear to have stalled out at around $70 for the time being. Major economic uncertainty has buyers of oil futures justifiably taking a wait-and-see approach with regard to future demand.

If Obama really wants to see clean tech take off, he needs to make oil much more expensive than $70 a barrel (don’t think he isn’t trying); but in the mean time, he has to keep the subsidies to companies such as Solyndra flowing. This is the second thing to keep in mind: Clean-tech companies depend on the willingness of governments to subsidize them. The problem they are encountering at present is that the governments that most enjoy subsidizing them are found in Europe, and Europe is running out of money.
Across the continent, European governments are announcing cutbacks in clean-tech subsidies. Germany’s parliament voted earlier this month to cut some subsidies for solar power by 15 percent and to eliminate other solar-subsidy programs altogether. And Spain started withdrawing its subsidies for solar in late 2008, bursting a bubble that had built up in that sector, just as the oil-price collapse burst the U.S. ethanol bubble around that same time.

Both bubbles followed the same familiar pattern: The government promised a subsidy or a mandate to promote this or that renewable fuel. The makers of that fuel attracted private investors, lured by the promise of government support, and pretty soon the field was crowded with competitors trying to get a piece of the subsidized action. But everyone forgot that there was no real demand for the product. When the price of oil dropped and the government cut back on its aid, consumers were left with a surplus of expensive, unreliable energy they never really wanted in the first place. Prices collapsed, and investors rushed for the exits almost as fast as they rushed in, leaving a wave of bankruptcies and layoffs.

At least Spain is learning its lesson. The president of Spain’s national energy regulator has called its current system of subsidizing solar “unsustainable.” A headline atop one Spanish newspaper reads, “Spain admits that the green economy sold to Obama is a ruin.”

How many more years can the U.S. president afford to live in denial on this point? As Europe struggles with its enormous debt load, Obama increases ours at record rates. As Europe tightens, Obama promises more loan guarantees for plants such as the one he visited yesterday in California, a state that is offering us a preview of what it’s like to live through a debt crisis. Here’s a hint: The state’s independent auditing agency just released a damning study on the cap-and-trade program California plans to implement unilaterally, concluding that the “net economywide impact” — which includes badly needed revenue for the state’s empty coffers — “will in all likelihood be negative.” The case of California shows us that our illusions about the economic feasibility of a green-energy utopia are on a fast track to the dust bin.

“It’s fitting that this technology is being pioneered here in California,” Obama remarked on Wednesday.

Fitting indeed.   

— Stephen Spruiell is an NRO staff reporter.
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« Reply #182 on: May 30, 2010, 01:55:56 PM »

May 27, 2010
Environmentalists with Oil on Their Hands
By Henry P. Wickham, Jr.
When evaluating in an honest way all factors that contributed to the current pollution of the Gulf, we must ask why BP was drilling in 5,000 feet of ocean when there are so many other accessible and safe alternatives. There are large deposits of oil shale in Western Colorado that could easily and safely be extracted as it is now in Western Canada. We have all heard of the huge deposits of oil in ANWR, on Alaska's North Shore. Because of improved drilling technology, all available oil in ANWR can be extracted by using only 2,000 of its roughly 19,000,000 acres.

BP now drills in 5,000 feet of ocean because these better alternatives have been foreclosed to the oil industry. Environmental groups have effectively stymied this safe and relatively easy production of oil in the name of some higher but more nebulous good. Where they once rationalized their campaign against oil companies based upon the threat of environmental degradation, environmental groups now use the increasingly dubious claims of global warming to justify their obstruction.

As the policies of environmental groups were a factor in what we now see in the Gulf of Mexico, so they were in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.  When huge quantities of oil were discovered in Prudhoe Bay on the North Shore of Alaska in the mid-1960s, one issue among many was the transportation of this oil.

The safest approach was a pipeline from the North Shore directly to the northern border of the contiguous United States. As a member of the Sierra Club at that time, I remember well the relentless war that the Sierra Club waged against both the drilling and the pipeline. In what has now become a predictable strategy, the Sierra Club catastrophized the entire project and attacked the motives of those who sought merely to respond to the demand for oil by the American public.

The Sierra Club at that time published a "Battlebook," where readers were told that the drilling and pipeline "will despoil thousands of acres of virgin wilderness, change the ecology of huge tracts, pollute Alaska's rivers and harbors, and interrupt the migration patterns of the caribou herds."

Because of what he called this "mindless onslaught of technology," the author asserted that the caribou herds would be decimated as American buffalo were in the 19th century. His heated rhetoric, no doubt a contribution to global warming, took control as he wrote that this development was a "rape" in the name of "fat profits."     

Fortunately for America, the environmentalists at that time did not have the political clout they do now. Prudhoe Bay was developed, and it now operates without all the dire consequences to the land so hysterically predicted by the Sierra Club. However, as a partial victory for the environmentalists, the pipeline was constructed only to Valdez, Alaska, rather than to the border of the lower forty-eight states. And so, on March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground, dumping 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. Exxon is certainly responsible for the blunders that occurred that day.

In the one instance where a Sierra Club predictions came true, the Sierra Club had a hand in that disaster. The blunders of the ship's captain likely would not have occurred had it not been for the obstruction of the pipeline that could have reached the contiguous United States. The longer pipeline would have eliminated, or at least significantly reduced, the need for an Exxon Valdez. As with the wreck of the Exxon Valdez, the crisis today in the Gulf may not have occurred if the environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club had not obstructed so many of the safe alternatives to drilling in 5,000 feet of ocean.

The chronic obstruction of so many economic endeavors is a symptom of deeper problems in the environmental movement. Environmentalists tend to live in a fantasy world, where some unattainable perfection is always the enemy of the good. What was once reasonable conservation has become for many the pseudo-religion of environmentalism, where Luddite obstruction is the default position, and no environmental benefit, no matter how small, is ever too costly.

Aside from the nostalgic illusions of some lost Eden, among environmentalists there is a strong element that opposes democratic capitalism. Environmentalism becomes just another means to a dreamy collectivized end.  They simply ignore or are ignorant of the causes of their comfortable life and the serious environmental degradation done by regimes with" planned" economies and "public" ownership of the means of production.

Environmentalism is also a worldview where one never really has to accept or take responsibility for the consequences of those policies. Millions die of malaria because affluent environmentalists had the political might to have DDT banned. America can be deprived of new sources of safe and clean nuclear energy because of the hysterical and dishonest war waged against the nuclear power industry. Environmentalists can tout wind power while campaigning to obstruct its generation near the shores of Cape Cod. (We must not interfere with the yachting patterns of the local but classy endangered species off Hyannisport.) Environmentalists seem never to be called to account.

As we experience the effects of and calculate the enormous costs to clean up the Gulf of Mexico, by all means, let's hold BP accountable. But let's refuse to give the environmentalists a free pass. We must judge them by all the consequences of what they advocate, and not just by their flowery rhetoric, pretty calendars, and supposedly noble intentions. We must emphasize that for all those supposedly "green" benefits, there are real costs and risks that the environmentalists downplay or conceal. In this case, environmentalists have Gulf oil on their hands as much as any floating pelican carcass, although we will never get an acknowledgment of any responsibility or an apology from them.
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« Reply #183 on: June 03, 2010, 10:23:02 AM »

June 03, 2010
Is there a political reason behind the Obama Administration's foot-dragging on the Gulf Oil Clean-Up?
Bill Weckesser

Is the Obama administrations slowness to deal with the gulf oil disaster simply another example of government bungling or is there more to it?  There appears to be one common thread that connects all of the administration's actions, or inaction, as well as both liberal and conservative criticisms -- namely, the administration's slow response.  But, more pointedly the administration has been foot-dragging clean up efforts.  The Wall Street Journal reports that criticizing the clean-up has become Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's daily routine.     
Nearly every day, the Republican policy wonk pulls on his brown cowboy boots and traipses across a newly oiled shore, or takes a boat through fouled waters. Along the way, he often lambastes BP's and the federal government's efforts as "too little, too late" for communities scrambling to protect their fragile wetlands from encroaching crude—comments that have drawn sharp criticism from the White House and some Democratic lawmakers.

Louisiana has jurisdiction over its coastline, but none in the federal waters of the Gulf.

Mr. Jindal accuses the federal government of poorly coordinating cleanup efforts between its agencies and BP, leading to delays in cleaning oiled beaches and marshes, laying protective boom and delivering resources to critical areas.

One can understand the difficulties in plugging a well that's about a mile underwater; it's certainly a daunting task.   But cleaning oil spills is routine work.  There are many methods and there've been lots of suggestions.  Industry expert John Hofmeister argues that supertankers have been successfully used before.  The idea is all over the internet; for instance Esquire has a blog about it

There's a potential solution to the Gulf oil spill that neither BP, nor the federal government, nor anyone — save a couple intuitive engineers — seems willing to try. As The Politics Blog reported on Tuesday in an interview with former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, the untapped solution involves using empty supertankers to suck the spill off the surface, treat and discharge the contaminated water, and either salvage or destroy the slick.

Hofmeister had been briefed on the strategy by a Houston-based environmental disaster expert named Nick Pozzi, who has used the same solution on several large spills during almost two decades of experience in the Middle East — who says that it could be deployed easily and should be, immediately, to protect the Gulf Coast. That it hasn't even been considered yet is, Pozzi thinks, owing to cost considerations, or because there's no clear chain of authority by which to get valuable ideas in the right hands. But with BP's latest four-pronged plan remaining unproven, and estimates of company liability already reaching the tens of billions of dollars (and counting), supertankers start to look like a bargain.

The real question now is, "Why has the administration blocked clean-up efforts, of all things?  There's no argument that it may take until August for new wells to stem the leak, but why isn't everything possible being done to clean the water and prevent as much oil from coming to shore as possible?  Is it merely government bungling or is there a political agenda at work here?  This is, after all, the administration that vowed to "never waste a good crisis."

Did the administration early on make a conscious effort to stone-wall the clean up efforts in an attempt to use scenes of dirty birds and blobs of oil to sway public opinion in favor of its green, cap-and-trade agenda that's looked all but dead in congress?  Could much of the environmental and economic destruction been averted by an aggressive clean-up and containment effort?  Who in the administration is to blame? And why? 

One can only hope that American's will begin asking these tough questions about what appears to be a willful slowness on behalf of Bama Petroleum to vigorously attack the clean-up and preservation efforts.
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« Reply #184 on: June 04, 2010, 10:50:58 PM »

Some other spills

This site lists other oil spills and their tonnage from over the years:
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« Reply #185 on: June 06, 2010, 09:21:25 AM »

Gov. Haley Barbor of Miss. said today that 7 of the biggest 10 spills came from tankers.  I think that matches the info in Crafty's link.  Barbor said that the greatest economic damage so far to his state is the news coverage.  Photos of only the worst spots create the impression the whole shoreline is like that right now and it isn't, he said.

Most spillage is natural.  In the long run, drilling, capturing and using the oil beneath the gulf should lessen the natural seepage I would think, if that is the goal.

While we put a moratorium on new deepwater rigs, why not open ANWR and shallower areas off-shore?

Or quit driving.  I would like to see a moratorium on Air Force One flights during the drilling ban.  The man is in his 40s and owns a bicycle, does he not? 

Same for Pelosi.  If we say we can do without oil, let's start with the leadership and see how it goes.
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« Reply #186 on: June 07, 2010, 10:07:43 AM »

This also could be posted in the Issues in the American Creed -Constitutional Law thead on the SCH forum as a matter of Separation of Powers.
  For Immediate Release: June 7, 2010
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or (703) 568-4727
Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or

Senators to Vote on Whether to Cede Congressional Authority to the EPA

Washington, D.C. - Senators will soon consider a resolution to pare back an Environmental Protection Agency plan to regulate greenhouse gases - a plan that would raise energy costs.

On June 10, the U.S. Senate will consider a "resolution of disapproval" regarding a 2009 ruling made by the EPA in late 2009 claiming six greenhouse gases are a threat to public health. This makes these gases -- carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride -- subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

"The EPA's endangerment finding endangers our economy and our liberty," said Deneen Borelli, full-time fellow with the Project 21 black leadership network. "The EPA's effort to regulate greenhouse gases will affect virtually every aspect of our economy and our lives. In expert opinion, this will result in higher energy costs and job losses while having -- by their own admission -- virtually no effect on cooling global climate."

Senate Joint Resolution 26, introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), would use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the administrative ruling. This would allow elected representatives to deliberate and pass their own regulations as Congress sees fit.

"I don't want an unelected bureaucrat imposing rules and regulations on businesses that are essentially a tax on energy and will be passed along to consumers -- many of whom are just getting by as it is," said Tom Borelli, director of the Free Enterprise Project of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

"Opposition to the cap-and-trade bill that was jammed through the House of Representatives is one of the key positions of the tea parties, and this endangerment finding is cap-and-trade by other means," noted Deneen Borelli. "Americans are already skeptical enough of lawmakers these days. Watching them pass up an opportunity to do what they were sent to Washington for will restore no lost faith in the government."

"This resolution is a major indicator of where our republic is headed. Senators will determine if they are going to cede their authority as an elected representative of the people to largely unaccountable bureaucrats," added Tom Borelli. "While the White House is eager for the EPA to seize regulatory authority, rank-and-file Americans such as those found in the tea party movement are troubled and will be watching to see who will be for and who will be against this massive federal power grab."

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit, free-market think-tank established in 1982 and funded primarily by the gifts of over 100,000 recent individual contributors. Less than one percent of funding is received from corporations.

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« Reply #187 on: June 08, 2010, 06:21:46 AM »

Looks like the Community Organizer in Chief would do well to take lessons from these folks.

In Alabama, a Home-Grown Bid to Beat Back Oil
Published: June 7, 2010

MAGNOLIA SPRINGS, Ala. — James Hinton looked over a barge jutting into the mouth of a 6,000-acre estuary last weekend and said, “If we can make this work, if the oil don’t get in here, 1,275 miles of bay and river coastline will be protected. I could go to jail for going against unified command. Now, I don’t mind going to jail, I just need to make sure it’s for doing the right thing.”

In a month in which Gulf Coast officials have railed about not being able to protect their shorelines from oil and not getting support from BP or the unified command structure set up to handle the cleanup efforts, Mr. Hinton, a volunteer fire chief in Magnolia Springs, a small town of fewer than 1,000, has emerged as a man with a plan.

“What he’s doing is really admirable,” said Bethany Kraft, executive director of the Alabama Coastal Foundation, a nonprofit environmental group. “He’s taking things into his own hands instead of waiting for other people to do something about it.”

Mr. Hinton went into action the first week of May, calling a town meeting to discuss ideas for protecting Weeks Bay, an estuary off Mobile Bay that supports 19 federally protected species, including bald eagles and wood storks. The residents came up with a solution that is unique on the gulf, said Malissa Valdes, a spokeswoman for the unified command, which approves all responses in federally governed waters.

From the start, the townspeople were unsatisfied with the unified command’s plan for Weeks Bay — a strand of floating surface barriers known as boom stretched across the bay’s mouth. Because of tidal currents, any oil on top of the water could splash over the boom, then into the bay and up the Fish and Magnolia Rivers into nurseries for area wildlife. A plan to string boom across Mobile Bay failed when water shredded the barrier.

Mr. Hinton’s solution was simple: run a wall of barges across the mouth of Weeks Bay to block the current, then run five layers of boom behind it — two to block the oil, and three strands of absorbent boom to soak up any oil that got through the containment layers.

The town bought the boom right away, before an increase in demand nearly quadrupled the price. Money for the project came from the state, which received $25 million from BP for emergency response efforts.

“We’re not biologists or engineers or scientists,” Mr. Hinton said. “We took common sense and what we knew about the water from living here. I’m pretty proud of our little plan.”

Between rain showers on Sunday, two dozen volunteer firefighters and teenage explorers laid out the layers of boom, while a tugboat and a crane moved nine barges into place, anchored by 40-foot spikes, with a closeable 100-foot gap for boats to pass through.

To seal the bay entirely they would need approval from unified command. But they are resolved to close it at the first sight of nearby oil, with or without approval, said Charles S. Houser, the mayor of Magnolia Springs, who earns a monthly salary of $100.

“We’re not going to wait for BP,” Mr. Houser said. “If we saw oil right there we’d close the bay right now. The lesson we learned from Louisiana is to act, not wait. We’ll ask for forgiveness later.”

The biggest challenge, Mr. Hinton said, has been dealing with BP and the unified command bureaucracy. The 36 fire chiefs in Baldwin County here passed a resolution to censure BP for poor communications with fire crews.

Mr. Hinton said that so far no other communities had contacted him about copying his plan. “A fire chief told me, ‘Jamie, you can slow down in your preparations, the federal government is going to take care of it.’ I said, ‘Meaning the way they took care of Katrina, Ivan and the Valdez spill?’ ”

He added: “If you wait on BP, it’ll be like Louisiana. They had a month to protect the marshes. The Bible says the good Lord made the world in seven days. I’m not going to risk what happened in Louisiana happening here.”
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« Reply #188 on: June 10, 2010, 08:46:54 PM »


The seven experts who advised President Obama on how to deal with offshore drilling safety after the Deepwater Horizon explosion are accusing his administration of misrepresenting their views to make it appear that they supported a six-month drilling moratorium -- something they actually oppose.

The experts, recommended by the National Academy of Engineering, say Interior Secretary Ken Salazar modified their report last month, after they signed it, to include two paragraphs calling for the moratorium on existing drilling and new permits.

Salazar's report to Obama said a panel of seven experts "peer reviewed" his recommendations, which included a six-month moratorium on permits for new wells being drilled using floating rigs and an immediate halt to drilling operations.

"None of us actually reviewed the memorandum as it is in the report," oil expert Ken Arnold told Fox News. "What was in the report at the time it was reviewed was quite a bit different in its impact to what there is now. So we wanted to distance ourselves from that recommendation."

Salazar apologized to those experts Thursday.

"The experts who are involved in crafting the report gave us their recommendation and their input and I very much appreciate those recommendations," he said. "It was not their decision on the moratorium. It was my decision and the president's decision to move forward."

In a letter the experts sent to Salazar, they said his primary recommendation "misrepresents" their position and that halting the drilling is actually a bad idea.

The oil rig explosion occurred while the well was being shut down – a move that is much more dangerous than continuing ongoing drilling, they said.

They also said that because the floating rigs are scarce and in high demand worldwide, they will not simply sit in the Gulf idle for six months. The rigs will go to the North Sea and West Africa, possibly preventing the U.S. from being able to resume drilling for years.

They also said the best and most advanced rigs will be the first to go, leaving the U.S. with the older and potentially less safe rights operating in the nation's coastal waters
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« Reply #189 on: June 11, 2010, 09:56:02 AM »

It is interesting to see the rift between UK and OBama unfold.  I would suppose he is no longer their favorite guy.
His handling of the spill by blaming incessantly BP and doing everything possible to avoid responsibility and shift 100% blame on them is analagous to his everall style.
He is not a compromiser, or someone who brings sides together.  He is actually a divider.  He makes divisions worse.

The idea he never spoke to the CEO of BP, the idea he only needs to know whose ass to kick is on the face of it the most stupid thing I have heard in a long time.
Very Jimmy "Carteresque".  Clearly indicative of incompetence.  He claims the buck stops here - except when it comes to taking responsibility.

UK was mad at Bush I guess for getting them into Iraq, Afghanistan.

Well now how do they like Obama now.  When push comes to shove the buck is always thrown to someone else from this guy.

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« Reply #190 on: June 11, 2010, 10:10:51 AM »

Never send a "community organizer" to do an executive's job, eh Obama-voters?
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« Reply #191 on: June 12, 2010, 11:39:06 AM »

Very interesting report on the Bret Baier report last night on FOX.  Apparently due to the Jones Act (roughly US water for US flagged ships) there are a bunch of oil skimmer ships that would like to come add to the efforts in the Gulf, but are being denied because the BO people are refusing to exercise their option provided for in the Act of temporarily suspending the Act in the case of emergency e.g. as was done by Bush in the wake of Katrina.  Apparent reason?  That certain unions don't like this. angry cry angry
« Reply #192 on: June 15, 2010, 12:10:57 PM »

A very grim explication of what is likely going on with the spill in the Gulf. Not encountered the source before, but the poster certainly seems authoritative.
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« Reply #193 on: June 16, 2010, 02:20:11 PM »

Interested snippet from GM's link, 'a feature, not a bug' link elsewhere:
"John Hinderaker asks,
    If the federal government artificially inflates the price of fossil fuels through taxation and thereby forces Americans to use less desirable sources of energy, while at the same time other countries continue to use more efficient fossil fuels, it will raise the relative price of all American products and devastate our economy. Is it possible that Barack Obama does not know this? I’m not sure; his grasp of even the most basic economic principles seems shaky at best."
Seriously - as we argue cap and tax etc. - do they know the economic damage it will cause and the global uncompetitiveness it will cause or do they really not know?  They incessantly blame manufacturers for leaving the U.S. while they continue to make policies that cause manufacturers to leave.  Do they really not know consequences of making energy more expensive and harder to come by?

Some ideas moving forward on energy politics and policy: 

a) Go after domestic natural gas sources big time during this pause on deep drilling.  CNG (compressed natural gas) has transportation applications, see system in Utah, also CNG/electric hybrids.

b) Start building more nuclear capacity - power the grid, carbon-free but theses plants take a long time to build. 

c) Open ANWR and similar fields.  Huge capacity, also sends a market signal regarding future capacities. 

d) Approve shallow drilling closer to shore.  The hole would be plugged, Malia, if we could just go down there. 
« Reply #194 on: June 17, 2010, 01:22:36 PM »

9 Important Points about the BP Blowout – Part 1
Written by Allen Gilmer      
Tuesday, 15 June 2010 13:53

Here is what a couple of offshore drilling engineers told me about the BP Blowout…

However, everything is consistent with a well way over budget, company men taking heat from the home office to finish the job, and a series of decisions, none catastrophic by themselves, that eventually accumulated to cause this disaster.   I have worked with several majors in my career, and the BP/Amoco E&P guys were as good as they come.  I can't comment first hand on their drilling engineering practices in general, because I don't know.  Here are a few items on THIS well that are notable.

1. On a footage or day rate job, (this was a day rate, reportedly $1 MM/Day), the drilling contractor doesn’t do anything without operator approval or direction.
2. There is no reason to believe the blow out preventer was defective. The probability of a similar result is high for any crew using the same casing and cement program that was used here. 
3. The well was drilled to 18,360 ft and final mud weight was 14.0 ppg. The last casing long string was 16 inch and there were 3 drilling liners (13 5/8”, 11 7/8” and 9 7/8”) with 3 liner tops. 16 inches is a massive annulus, with attendant massive forces.  A 9-7/8” X 7” tapered casing long string was run to TD.  Normal practice would be to run a liner with 9-7/8” liner top packer, followed by tieback string. Perhaps they ran the long string at the last minute to make up for being over time and budget?  That would explain why there was no lock ring, since a last minute change would not allow time for fab or prep of a lock ring.
4. Apparently they had indications of mud losses, but efforts to control these were incomplete at best, and perhaps they decided to depend on the cement job to handle this for them.
5. This section of casing was cemented using only 51 barrels of nitrogen-aerated cement, a product choice and volume that seems peculiar and “tricky”. Normal practice would be to pump heavy cement all the way back up to the seabed. Also, why nitrified cement?
6. The casing seal assembly was set in wellhead and pressure tested from above to 10,000 psi. Reportedly, a lock down ring was not run on the 9 7/8” hangar/seal assembly casing hanger, as stated above.
7. After only 16.5 hours after cementing, the casing string was pressure tested against the shear rams. Typically you wait 24 hours before pressure testing, because of the danger of expanding the casing and cracking the cement, causing a pathway up the annulus for gas. Were they trying to get off this hole?  A negative test on the wellhead packoff was performed.  No cement bond log was run, perhaps to save a few hours of precious rig time.
8. The rig crew HAD to believe that the well was successfully cemented, capped and secured at this point. No one would remove their heavy (14 ppg) drilling mud and replace with seawater if they believed otherwise, and they did so before setting final cement plugs. Yet they did so less than 20 hours after primary cement job.  At this point, they had NO effective barriers between reservoir and surface.  They should have had at least 2 proven barriers.  They chose the fastest way to displace the much with seawater, by pumping sweater down the drill string and sloughing the returns to a work boat, so you lose the benefit of monitoring influx via the pit level.  All of this had to be operator mandated. 
9. During the displacement failure, the casing collapsed or otherwise failed, causing the well to unload and ignite.  According to the first photos, the crew was able to get the diverter closed since flames were shown coming out of diverter lines.
It is likely that pressure built up between the 9 7/8” and 16" casing under the casing hanger. For a mud weight of 14 ppg, the reservoir formation pressure was over 13,000 psi. The pressure differential below the casing hanger would have caused casing to collapse at one of the connections.  I have heard speculation that it was one or two joints below the wellhead.  This violent production through collapsed casing caused the blowout. Because the hangar didn’t have a lockdown ring, the casing hanger and joint(s) rammed up into the BOP, explaining why the BOP is unable to seal or shear. The parted casing section is probably found up into the riser.
Apparently they showed a bump, or gain in the mud at 8:41 p.m.  Had they shut down and closed the pipe rams, they had a good chance of pumping out the gas from the riser in a controlled fashion.  They didn’t, and continued pumping for another 30 minutes to disastrous effect.–-Part-1.html

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« Reply #195 on: July 02, 2010, 08:53:31 AM »

Destin, Fla.

As the oil spill continues and the cleanup lags, we must begin to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions. There does not seem to be much that anyone can do to stop the spill except dig a relief well, not due until August. But the cleanup is a different story. The press and Internet are full of straightforward suggestions for easy ways of improving the cleanup, but the federal government is resisting these remedies.

First, the Environmental Protection Agency can relax restrictions on the amount of oil in discharged water, currently limited to 15 parts per million. In normal times, this rule sensibly controls the amount of pollution that can be added to relatively clean ocean water. But this is not a normal time.

Various skimmers and tankers (some of them very large) are available that could eliminate most of the oil from seawater, discharging the mostly clean water while storing the oil onboard. While this would clean vast amounts of water efficiently, the EPA is unwilling to grant a temporary waiver of its regulations.

Next, the Obama administration can waive the Jones Act, which restricts foreign ships from operating in U.S. coastal waters. Many foreign countries (such as the Netherlands and Belgium) have ships and technologies that would greatly advance the cleanup. So far, the U.S. has refused to waive the restrictions of this law and allow these ships to participate in the effort.

The combination of these two regulations is delaying and may even prevent the world's largest skimmer, the Taiwanese owned "A Whale," from deploying. This 10-story high ship can remove almost as much oil in a day as has been removed in total—roughly 500,000 barrels of oily water per day. The tanker is steaming towards the Gulf, hoping it will receive Coast Guard and EPA approval before it arrives.

In addition, the federal government can free American-based skimmers. Of the 2,000 skimmers in the U.S. (not subject to the Jones Act or other restrictions), only 400 have been sent to the Gulf. Federal barriers have kept the others on stations elsewhere in case of other oil spills, despite the magnitude of the current crisis. The Coast Guard and the EPA issued a joint temporary rule suspending the regulation on June 29—more than 70 days after the spill.

The Obama administration can also permit more state and local initiatives. The media endlessly report stories of county and state officials applying federal permits to perform various actions, such as building sand berms around the Louisiana coast. In some cases, they were forbidden from acting. In others there have been extensive delays in obtaining permission.

As the government fails to implement such simple and straightforward remedies, one must ask why.

As Storm Stalls Cleanup, House Passes Victims' Bill
Florida Sees New Threat to Its Beaches
.One possibility is sheer incompetence. Many critics of the president are fond of pointing out that he had no administrative or executive experience before taking office. But the government is full of competent people, and the military and Coast Guard can accomplish an assigned mission. In any case, several remedies require nothing more than getting out of the way.

Another possibility is that the administration places a higher priority on interests other than the fate of the Gulf, such as placating organized labor, which vigorously defends the Jones Act.

Finally there is the most pessimistic explanation—that the oil spill may be viewed as an opportunity, the way White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said back in February 2009, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Many administration supporters are opposed to offshore oil drilling and are already employing the spill as a tool for achieving other goals. The websites of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, for example, all feature the oil spill as an argument for forbidding any further offshore drilling or for any use of fossil fuels at all. None mention the Jones Act.

To these organizations and perhaps to some in the administration, the oil spill may be a strategic justification in a larger battle. President Obama has already tried to severely limit drilling in the Gulf, using his Oval Office address on June 16 to demand that we "embrace a clean energy future." In the meantime, how about a cleaner Gulf?

Mr. Rubin, a professor of economics at Emory University, held several senior positions in the federal government in the 1980s. Since 1991 he has spent his summers on the Gulf.
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« Reply #196 on: July 02, 2010, 08:56:22 AM »

Second post of the morning:

Florida has long fought to prevent oil drilling anywhere near its white sandy beaches. But as the state continues to deal with oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill washing up on its shores, it faces a new threat: deepwater drilling in nearby Cuban waters.

Maria Ritter, a spokeswoman for Spanish oil company Repsol YPF SA, said it plans to drill off Cuba, about 60 miles south of Key West, Fla., early next year. If successful, this would likely kick off a spate of exploration. Only one deepwater well has been drilled in Cuban waters, by Repsol in 2004. The effort found oil but not enough to justify commercial development.

Since then, the U.S. Geological Survey has said there could be a substantial amount of untapped oil off the Cuban coast, whetting the appetite of several global oil companies that have signed exploration leases.

U.S. companies won't participate because of a longstanding trade embargo against Cuba. Repsol plans to use a floating drilling rig being refurbished in a Chinese shipyard, similar to the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP PLC that caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Mexico in April. Almost all parts and components in the rig to be used by Repsol are from non-U.S. companies.

The Obama administration has sought a six-month ban on deepwater drilling in U.S. waters to reassess risks and establish new safety procedures if necessary. But any new rules wouldn't reach Repsol's project in Cuban waters.

A spill there, even one significantly smaller than the continuing BP spill, could turn into an economic and environmental nightmare for Florida. Some oceanographers say the oil would likely be carried up Florida's Atlantic Coast, the heart of its tourism industry.

"We have one of the world's largest coral reefs and a protected marine sanctuary there," said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) "We should not be drilling there."

Cuba's state oil firm, Union Cuba Petroleo, could not be reached for comment. Ms. Ritter, the Repsol spokeswoman, declined to comment on the project beyond confirming plans for the rig. Repsol has operations in many parts of the world, including the U.S. portion of the Gulf of Mexico.

Drilling off Florida in U.S. waters has been banned by federal moratorium for decades. To protect the state's tourism-based economy, Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for the U.S. Senate as an independent, is floating a proposal for an amendment to the Florida constitution to ban offshore drilling there permanently.

It's not clear what U.S. or Florida officials could do to stop oil exploration in Cuba. The U.S. controls coastal waters up to 200 miles from its shores, but under a 1977 treaty it agreed to divide the Straits of Florida equally with Cuba. That means Repsol can drill a deepwater well about the same distance from Key West, Fla., as the Deepwater Horizon was from the Louisiana coast.

The rig headed for Cuban waters has five rams in its blowout preventer, each designed to help shut off an out-of-control well. The Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer had only four.

In the event of a spill in Cuban waters, many ships, equipment and personnel from the U.S. Gulf Coast could be prevented from helping because of the embargo. But that may be changing. A Treasury Department spokeswoman said some U.S. firms involved in oil cleanup have been issued licenses to travel to Cuba in case oil from the continuing spill hits beaches there.

Cuba's efforts to promote offshore oil exploration appear close to paying off. Cuba imports about 110,000 barrels of oil daily and produces an additional 52,000 barrels, mostly from onshore and shallow-water fields, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Ms. Ritter said Madrid-based Repsol plans to drill a new well near the 2004 well as soon as the rig—called the Scarabeo 9—is ready. Construction of Scarabeo 9 is expected to be complete at the end of 2010 or early 2011, said a spokesman for Enis SpA, an Italian company that controls the rig. Repsol's partners on the well include Norway's Statoil ASA and the overseas arm of India's state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp. Eight other foreign oil companies hold offshore leases in Cuban waters.
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« Reply #197 on: July 18, 2010, 10:00:45 AM »

On the rocky beaches of Alaska, scientists plunged shovels and picks into the ground and dug 6,775 holes, repeatedly striking oil — still pungent and dangerous a dozen years after the Exxon Valdez infamously spilled its cargo.

More than an ocean away, on the Breton coast of France, scientists surveying the damage after another huge oil spill found that disturbances in the food chain persisted for more than a decade.
And on the southern gulf coast in Mexico, an American researcher peering into a mangrove swamp spotted lingering damage 30 years after that shore was struck by an enormous spill.

These far-flung shorelines hit by oil in the past offer clues to what people living along the Gulf Coast can expect now that the great oil calamity of 2010 may be nearing an end.

Every oil spill is different, but the thread that unites these disparate scenes is a growing scientific awareness of the persistent damage that spills can do — and of just how long oil can linger in the environment, hidden in out-of-the-way spots.

At the same time, scientists who have worked to survey and counteract the damage from spills say the picture in the gulf is far from hopeless.

“Thoughts that this is going to kill the Gulf of Mexico are just wild overreactions,” said Jeffrey W. Short, a scientist who led some of the most important research after the Exxon Valdez spill and now works for an environmental advocacy group called Oceana. “It’s going to go away, the oil is. It’s not going to last forever.”

But how long will it last?

Only 20 years ago, the conventional wisdom was that oil spills did almost all their damage in the first weeks, as fresh oil loaded with toxic substances hit wildlife and marsh grasses, washed onto beaches and killed fish and turtles in the deep sea.

But disasters like the Valdez in 1989, the Ixtoc 1 in Mexico in 1979, the Amoco Cadiz in France in 1978 and two Cape Cod spills, including the Bouchard 65 barge in 1974 — all studied over decades with the improved techniques of modern chemistry and biology — have allowed scientists to paint a more complex portrait of what happens after a spill.

It is still clear that the bulk of the damage happens quickly, and that nature then begins to recuperate. After a few years, a casual observer visiting a hard-hit location might see nothing amiss. Birds and fish are likely to have rebounded, and the oil will seem to be gone.

But often, as Dr. Short and his team found in Alaska, some of it has merely gone underground, hiding in pockets where it can still do low-level damage to wildlife over many years. And the human response to a spill can mitigate — or intensify — its long-term effects. Oddly enough, some of the worst damage to occur from spills in recent decades has come from people trying too hard to clean them up.

It is hard for scientists to offer predictions about the present spill, for two reasons.

The ecology of the Gulf of Mexico is specially adapted to break down oil, more so than any other body of water in the world — though how rapidly and completely it can break down an amount this size is essentially unknown.

And because this spill is emerging a mile under the surface and many of the toxic components of the oil are dissolving into deep water and spreading far and wide, scientists simply do not know what the effects in the deep ocean are likely to be.

Still, many aspects of the spill resemble spills past, especially at the shoreline, and that gives researchers some confidence in predicting how events will unfold.

Remarkable Persistence

In 1969, a barge hit the rocks off the coast of West Falmouth, Mass., spilling 189,000 gallons of fuel oil into Buzzards Bay. Today, the fiddler crabs at nearby Wild Harbor still act drunk, moving erratically and reacting slowly to predators.

The odd behavior is consistent with a growing body of research showing how oil spills of many types have remarkably persistent effects, often at levels low enough to escape routine notice.

Jennifer Culbertson was a graduate student at Boston University in 2005 when she made plaster casts of crab burrows. She discovered that instead of drilling straight down, like normal crabs, the ones at Wild Harbor were going only a few inches deep and then turning sideways, repelled by an oily layer still lingering below the surface.

Other researchers established that the crabs were suffering from a kind of narcosis induced by hydrocarbon poisoning. Their troubles had serious implications for the marsh.

“Fiddler crabs normally play a crucial role in tilling the salt marsh, which helps provide oxygen to the roots of salt marsh grasses,” Dr. Culbertson said about her study.


Page 2 of 4)

In Alaska, the Exxon Valdez spill dumped nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, and it spread down the Alaska coast, ultimately oiling 1,200 miles of shoreline. By the late 1990s, the oil seemed to be largely gone, but liver tests on ducks and sea otters showed that they were still being exposed to hydrocarbons, chemical compounds contained in crude.


Dr. Short, then working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, mounted a series of excavations to figure out what had happened, with his team ultimately digging thousands of holes in Alaska’s beaches. Oil was found in about 8 percent of them, usually in places with too little oxygen for microbes to break it down.

Exactly how much damage continues from the oil is a matter of dispute, with Exxon commissioning its own studies that challenge the government’s findings on the extent of the impact. But it is clear that otters dig for food in areas containing oil, and that they, like nearly a dozen other species of animals, have still not entirely recovered from the 1989 spill.

At the rate the oil is breaking down, Dr. Short estimates that some of it could still be there a century from now.

Increasing the Stress

Perhaps the greatest single hazard from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the gulf is the long-term erosion of delicate coastal wetlands it could cause. At another spill site on the Massachusetts coast, not far from the West Falmouth spill, the legacy of oil contamination is evident in the difference between two marshes on either side of a pebbly shoreline road.

On one side, where the marshes were suffused in 1974 when the grounded Bouchard 65 barge dumped 11,000 to 37,000 gallons of fuel oil into the sea, the grasses are stunted and sparse. They cling tentatively to the edge of the sandy beach. But the grasses on the other side, untouched by oil, rise tall and thick.

Louisiana’s coastline contains some of the most productive marshes in the world, delivering an abundance of shrimp and oysters and providing critical habitat and breeding ground for birds and fish.

But even before the spill, the land was under enormous environmental stress, largely due to human activity. Dams on the Mississippi River and its tributaries have slowed the flow of sediment to the marshes, and global warming has caused sea level to rise.

The Louisiana marshes are eroding at an extraordinary rate — a football field’s worth sinks into the Gulf of Mexico every 38 minutes, according to the Louisiana Office of Coastal Management — and the worry now is that the oil spill will accelerate that erosion.

The Bouchard shows how that could happen. When the barge ran aground, thousands of gallons of a particularly toxic fuel oil spilled into the icy water and were swept to shore by the strong tides.

The oil made landfall just two miles north of where the West Falmouth oil spill had washed up only five years earlier. Winsor Cove, a classic New England bay surrounded by bluffs and stately homes, bore the brunt. Razor clams suffocated and rose to the surface by the hundreds to die.

But the lasting damage of the spill, severe erosion of the shoreline, took months longer to unfold.

George Hampson, now retired, was on the scientific team at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that studied a series of spills in the area. He recalled that after the 1974 spill the beach grasses, called spartina, which had grown like luxuriant matting along the shore, died.

“The first year it was just like a moonscape,” Mr. Hampson said.

Spartina, a common beach grass that fills the marshes along the North Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico, is a crucial factor in keeping marshlands from eroding into the sea. Its roots act as a vast net keeping soil in place.

But the oil in Winsor Cove set off a vicious downward spiral. “It was a race between how much peat was eroding and how quickly the grass was coming back,” Mr. Hampson said.

Over the course of the next several winters, six feet of shore eroded, including a sand berm that stood above the rest of the beach. And as the view from the pebbled road indicates, the vegetation still struggles for a foothold today.

“It’s been 35 years, and I’d say the grasses are just beginning to grow back,” Mr. Hampson said.

It is certain that some of the heavily oiled spartina in Louisiana will die. For now, heavy oiling is limited to just the marsh fringes, but a strong surge in front of a hurricane could change that.

Bad Choices

Oil spills produce a powerful impulse to clean up the oil and restore as much of the environment as possible. But that impulse can itself be a source of destruction.


Page 3 of 4)

No case illustrates that point more starkly than the 1978 spill of the Amoco Cadiz tanker. Caught in a gale, it was propelled against rocks near the shore of northwestern France, spilling 67 million gallons of crude oil that washed over 200 miles of the coast of Brittany.

The immediate damage was bad enough: at least 20,000 seabirds found dead, thousands of tons of oysters lost and fish ridden with ulcers and tumors. But then the French authorities made it worse.
The area had marshes, and they were hit hard by oil that sank deep into the sediments. The authorities felt they needed to act aggressively.

Using bulldozers and tractors, they scraped close to 20 inches of oiled sediment from the top in the most polluted marshes and also straightened and deepened some natural tidal channels, to improve flushing.

Over time, these proved to have been disastrous judgments.

In areas that were not bulldozed, nature ultimately broke down most of the oil and the vegetation came back. But marsh plants turned out to be highly sensitive to the depth of the sediment, and more than a decade after the spill, the bulldozed marshes are still missing as much as 40 percent of their vegetation.

“In the case of Amoco Cadiz, the cleanup operations were more deadly than the pollution itself,” said Jean-Claude Dauvin, a professor of marine biology and ecosystems at the University of Lille in northern France.

Much the same dynamic played out in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez spill. In some areas, Exxon power-washed oiled beaches with high-pressure, hot-water sprayers. It made for dramatic television images, with the company seemingly working hard against the spill. But scientists ultimately determined that it was a disaster for the tidal ecology, with clams and other organisms showing greatly delayed recovery on the laundered beaches, compared with oiled beaches that were not cleaned.

The lesson, scientists say, is not that people should never try to clean up an oil spill. It is possible to do too little as well as too much. But the calculation of how much to do is tricky, demanding deep scientific understanding of an area’s ecology. Applying supposed common sense has repeatedly led to mistakes.

Already in Louisiana, battles have erupted between the Army Corps of Engineers and local residents, led by Gov. Bobby Jindal, over proposals to build sand and rock barriers to block the oil from coming into the marshes. The corps has been cautious on approval permits and recently rejected a plan to build a rock barrier outside Barataria Bay, arguing that such structures would change water-flow patterns to the possible detriment of the marsh ecology.

No matter how that battle plays out, a tough and potentially contentious issue in Louisiana in coming months may be the question of whether the marshes should be burned.

If the top layer of grasses and the clinging oil are burned off, the roots should survive and allow healthier grasses to sprout back. But scientists say that can be done only if there is no chance of new oil coming in, since burning might expose the roots buried in the sediment, making them vulnerable to absorbing the oil. Given the immensity of the spill, it is not clear when that hazard will have passed.

“If you consider the volume,” said Ronald J. Kendall, chairman of environmental toxicology at Texas Tech University, “we could see re-oiling for years to come.”

Natural Resilience

The other day, a Mexican fishing boat threaded its way deep into a coastal mangrove swamp on the Bay of Campeche. It carried two scientists, an American, Wes Tunnell, and a Mexican, Julio Sánchez.

They were looking for remnants of an oil spill that happened 30 years earlier, when the Ixtoc 1 well in the bay exploded and gushed oil for 10 months. It has stood for decades as the worst accidental release of oil in any ocean. (It may or may not have been surpassed by the BP spill; estimates vary.)

Mangroves are vital coastal plants, providing rich habitat for many types of creatures and serving as a nursery for many marine species. To the untrained eye, the ones in Mexico appeared healthy, billowing up from the shoreline in shades of green, balanced on a gray carpet of roots that protruded from the water.


Page 4 of 4)

But Dr. Tunnell pointed out subtle signs of damage. There were clearings in the foliage, instead of an unbroken tangle of roots and mangrove trees. The branches of the outer layer of red mangroves seemed stunted.

“For a mangrove swamp, this should be much denser,” Dr. Tunnell said. “We shouldn’t even be able to see in here.”

The scientists scrambled out of the boats to a small clearing. Dr. Sanchez bent down, sliced out a layer of sediment and broke it to reveal gooey tar in the middle.

Dr. Tunnell sniffed. “It smells like a newly paved road,” he said.

They could not be sure it was oil from the Ixtoc well, since smaller spills have hit the area too, but the scientists agree with local fishermen that much of the damage to the mangroves goes back to Ixtoc.

They sent the sample to a laboratory. The fishermen also said that oysters that used to be found clinging to the mangrove roots seemed to have vanished after the spill and never returned.

The Ixtoc blowout of 1979-80 is the closest analogy to the BP spill, even though it happened in much shallower water. Ixtoc soiled hundreds of miles of beaches, all the way to Texas.

Dr. Tunnell, of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, was early in his career then. He was dismayed to see the oil kill 50 percent to 80 percent of the bottom-dwelling creatures in some areas near the Texas shore.

“As a young scientist, I thought, ‘Oh, no, this is wiping out our beaches,’ ” Dr. Tunnell said.

But then he watched in amazement as the recuperative powers of the gulf kicked in.

Because oil constantly seeps into the gulf from natural fissures, the water is teeming with microbes adapted to break oil down and use it as food. The breakdown happens faster there than in colder bodies of water, and the warm water helps some species recover faster, too.

Along the Texas coast, within a few years after the Ixtoc spill ended in 1980, it was hard to tell that anything had gone wrong. Creatures repopulated the areas that had been wiped out.

No one can be sure that the recovery from the BP spill will be a replay of Ixtoc. But the greatest reason for optimism is nature’s demonstrated capacity to handle the assaults on it.

“Thirty years ago, that 140 million gallons of oil went somewhere,” Dr. Tunnell said. “The gulf recovered and became very productive again. My concern is: Is it as resilient today as it was 30 years ago?”
« Reply #198 on: July 18, 2010, 09:15:39 PM »

Too much of a good thing: Growth in wind power makes life difficult for grid managers
Published: Saturday, July 17, 2010, 10:00 AM     Updated: Saturday, July 17, 2010, 8:45 PM
 Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian
 Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian
The fast-growing number of wind farms in the Northwest, such as the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm near Rufus, has created new challenges for those who manage the power grid.
On the afternoon of May 19, in a single chaotic hour, more than a thousand wind turbines in the Columbia River Gorge went from spinning lazily in the breeze to full throttle as a storm rolled east out of Hood River.

Suddenly, almost two nuclear plants worth of extra power was sizzling down the lines -- the largest hourly spike in wind power the Northwest has ever experienced.

At the Bonneville Power Administration's control room in Vancouver, it was too much of a good thing. More electricity than its customers needed. More than the available power lines could export from the region. And more than the grid could readily absorb by ramping down generation at the region's network of federal dams.

So the edict went out: Feather your turbine blades; slash output.

It was an unwelcome instruction for wind farm owners, whose economics depend on generating electricity whenever possible. Yet it's one likely to go out with increasing frequency.

During the last three years, the building boom spawned by green energy mandates in Oregon, Washington and California doubled the generation capacity of wind farms in the region. By 2013, it's expected to double again.

That seems like great news. Plenty of carbon-free energy with no fuel costs. Jobs. Property taxes.

In the real world, however, the pace and geographic concentration of wind development, coupled with wild swings in its output, are overwhelming the region's electrical grid and outstripping its ability to use the power or send it elsewhere.

In theory, better coordination of the balkanized grid operations around the west could help solve the problem, reducing costs, eliminating bottlenecks and solving scheduling conflicts that plague the system today.

In practice, however, those efforts have often stalled at the planning stage -- the victim of risk-averse engineers, utility managers or public utility customers worried about seeing their rates increase.

It's not a new problem. But the renewables explosion, and pressure to reduce carbon emissions, is forcing the transmission issue to center stage now.

"There's a sweet spot to talk about these issues, and everyone's attention is on this at the moment," said Rachel Shimshak, executive director of the Renewables Northwest Project. "Maybe the benefits didn't look so obvious before, but now we have a lot more people with skin in the game."

The most significant player in that crowd is California, which already buys much of the Northwest's wind energy, but has trouble getting it delivered over clogged interstate power lines. The state has just increased its already aggressive renewable energy standards, increasing its appetite for green power.

Ultimately, the solution to the problem is to beef up or build new power lines, said Randy Hardy, a Seattle-based energy consultant. But that's a five to ten year proposition, involving even more coordination on what to build, where to put it and who pays.

"We have a next-year problem," Hardy said, "or maybe a this-year problem."

Only 15 percent of the electricity generated by wind farms in the Northwest goes to the public utilities that buy power directly from BPA, which sells power from federal dams in the Columbia Basin. But the federal power marketing agency manages three quarters of the region's high voltage transmission system, including the sections serving most of the region's wind farms.

That makes it BPA's job to balance their up-and-down output, blending it with other sources of power so total generation at any given time matches total demand -- a requirement to maintain grid reliability.

The dams are great for the job -- operators can adjust water flows through the turbines to help offset variable wind output.

But only within limits.

As the region's wind fleet grows, an ever bigger slice of the hydro pie is being reserved to fill in when the wind doesn't blow as scheduled. That means foregone sales of surplus power, a source of revenue that reduces BPA's rates for public utility customers.

When the wind blows harder than forecast, particularly during periods of high spring runoff at the dams, operators face the opposite problem. They can't bypass the dam turbines to lower hydro generation, because dumping too much water over the spillways harms fish.

So the other option is to cut generation at the wind farms.

Too many curtailments, however, undermines the economics of wind, not only because turbines generate less power to sell but because valuable tax and renewable energy credits are only generated when their blades are spinning.

"We are committed to trying to find ways to get as much wind into the system as possible, but we're going to be real sticklers about reliability, and we think its it's not fair to have a cost shift," said Elliott Mainzer, BPA's director of strategic planning

BPA does charge wind farms to offset the additional costs they bring to the system. But those charges have been highly contentious.

Last year, when the agency proposed quadrupling its “integration” rate, Oregon’s congressional delegation took up the wind developers’ fight, accusing the agency of dragging its feet on renewables and focusing solely on maintaining low rates for its public utility customers. Sen. Ron Wyden was highly critical of the agency’s attitude problem, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer even suggested it might be time for new leadership at the agency.
BPA ultimately backed away from the big rate increase. But it is coming up again this year as the agency kicks off a new rate-setting process.
Meanwhile, it has pushed ahead with a variety of efforts to accommodate more variable resources, from better wind forecasting to more flexible scheduling of transmission.

In extreme situations, however, the agency continues to dump wind.

At the current rate of wind development, says the BPA's Mainzer, the region's system of dams and power lines will start running into consistent operational problems around 2013, when wind in the agency's territory reaches total capacity of some 6,000 megawatts.

Above and beyond that, he said, will require major structural changes.

"If it's done right, he said, "it's a huge opportunity for the Northwest."

The solution, most experts believe, lies in better coordination of power plants across the west, more efficient use of existing power lines and some expansion of the grid.

"We believe there's more space on the lines if we get smarter about how we use them," said John Audley, deputy director at the Renewables Northwest Project. "But there isn't anyone out there who feels we have enough transmission in place to get what we need done."

Building new transmission, though, is an uphill battle. New lines often require new rights of way through sensitive habitat and private property. And they are phenomenally expensive, raising the show-stopping question of who pays.

BPA has had some success convincing wind developers and other transmission customers to commit to helping fund new power lines and upgrades within the region.

"The piece that is not doing well is planning for moving wind out of the region," said Brian Silverstein, senior vice president of transmission services for BPA. Ultimately, he said, "we can plan all we want. The challenge is getting people to commit to the investment."

There's a broad-based effort to get more out of the existing lines, too.

The capacity of power lines linking Oregon and California, for instance, is completely booked long term. But on a day-to-day basis, utilization can be lower than 50 percent.

Part of the problem is that utilities buy more capacity than they need, and hoard it for emergencies. If that capacity can be freed up, BPA estimates the lines could transfer 10 to 15 percent more power.

Another issue is that utilities are required to reserve line capacity an hour ahead of time. By allowing them to adjust their orders more frequently, utilities could accommodate unanticipated ebbs and flows in wind generation and maybe free up another 25 to 30 percent of capacity on the power lines.

But none of those changes come quickly, easily or cheaply. Utility managers, renewable developers, customer advocates and environmentalists met last week in Portland for a day-long seminar on expanding and modernizing the grid to accommodate renewables.

There was a definite sense of urgency in the air. But also determination.

"We can't pay for everything at once, and we don't want to pay for everything on the table," said Jeff Bissonnette, a lobbyist for the Citizen's Utility Board of Oregon. "We have to figure out what makes sense to pay for first, second and third, and what makes sense for consumers and the environment."

-- Ted Sickinger
« Reply #199 on: July 19, 2010, 11:50:02 AM »

Not in a position to evaluate this piece, but it appears well reasoned. Wish the author had included his quals, but if he's right it's a damning piece.

Steven Chu's Snake Oil

Bruce Thompson
You probably have been hearing a lot of nonsense lately about the integrity of BP's Macondo well casing. A lot of it has been coming from those who ought to know better, specifically including Energy Secretary Chu. Click here for a copy of the well diagram saved from the DOE website. I recommend that you print it out to follow along. What we will look at is on the left hand side of the page. (Here's the link: BbG)

Starting at the top it says "ML @ 5067'MD/TVD". Translating, it means Mud Line @ 5,067' Measured Depth/Total Vertical Depth.

Next it says "16" supplemental adapter @ 5227' in 22" extension joint 18".375" ID (1.25" wall pipe above" -  That is the "hanger" for the 16" casing. Just below the hanger, if you look at the wall itself, you will see a dark vertical line on the outside (the 36" casing), a gray band (cement), another dark vertical line (the 28" casing), more cement, a third dark line (the 22" casing), a white space (the annulus between the 22" and 16" casings), another black line which is the 16" casing and then another white space with the number "14" which is the annulus between the 16" casing and the 9-7/8" production casing which is shown filled with blue (sea water).

Next is the bottom of the 36" casing at 5,312' MD/TVD (254' bml [below mud line])

Now we get to the first of Dr Chu's screwups, the "16" rupture/burst disk sub". .We will return to the subject of rupture disks shortly.

Next it says "TOC @ - 5067' MD/TVD (mudline)" which means the Top Of Cement is at the mud line. The bottom of that cement job is shown next at "28" @ 6217' MD/TVD (1150' bml)". So the 28" casing is cemented all the way along its length from 5067' down to 6217'.

Next comes a reference to the internal drill pipe (567' MD - Bot of 5-1/2" 21.9 ppf S-135 (3450' of pipe")) which we can ignore because it has nothing to do with the integrity of the casing.

Next is another "TOC 2 - 5067' MD/TVD (mudline) indicating that the 22" casing is also cemented all the way up to the mud line. So if the casing were to fail at the surface around the Blowout Preventer (BOP), it would have to rupture through three thicknesses of casing (36", 28" & 22"), plus the two layers of cement. And if it were more than 160 feet below the mud line (5227 - 5067 =160) you can add the 16" casing too. Relax Dear Readers, the well is intact near the mud line.

Now please note that the 16" casing goes all the way down to 11,585', a distance of 6518'  below the mud line  and is cemented up to about 10,500 feet. Therefore, it has over 1000 feet of cement between its lower end and the rough well bore. 

The production casing is described on the right side of the page near the bottom "7' 32# x 9-7/8" 62.Cool. Deciphered that means the lower part of the production casing, which goes down to 18,114.93' MD, is 7 inches in diameter and weighs 32 pounds per foot. It transitions ("XOVER" AKA crossover) to a 9-7/8" diameter, 62.8 pounds per foot pipe at 12,487.64'.

Now let us come back to the rupture disks. You'll see there are three shown at 6047', 6304' and 9560'. They are all shown as 16" disks. You may ask how does Dr Chu get 16" rupture disks into a 9-7/8" production casing? OOOOPS. Actually, the rupture disks are very small and are placed in threaded holes through the collars that are used to screw sections of 16"casing together. I do not  know the manufacturer of the disks, but since I sell rupture disks in my day job, I'll use some of my manufacturer's literature to explain what is going on.

Here is the link.  Given that it is installed using a "1/4" hex bit socket" it is a very small device. It is screwed into the collar from the ouside so that the flow is directed inward. As noted above, there is drilling mud between the 16" casing and the casings outside it. That mud is in contact with the surrounding rock which varies in temperature from 48 degrees F at 5,312 feet to 262 degrees F at 18,360 feet. As the ground heats the mud it will expand. If it expands too much, it will create a pressure on the outside of the 16" casing trying to implode the 16" casing. So the rupture disks are intended to provide thermal relief of that annular space around the 16" casing. The casing is under more threat of implosion than explosion.

So Dear AT Readers, don't believe the government when they try to sell you Doctor Chu's Snake Oil that the well lacks pressure integrity above 11,153 feet total vertical depth. In fact the most likely place where the well has failed is through the cement shoe between the "Top Float Collar 18,11.93 MD" the "7" Shoe @ 18,303.92' MD".

BTW - I see that the New York Times has re-written its puff piece on Dr Chu from last Saturday to delete this passage:

His role gradually deepened as he assembled a team of scientists from the Department of Energy laboratories, universities and other government agencies. By late May, his confidence had grown and he was giving orders to BP officials, including his demand to stop the top kill effort even though some BP engineers believed it could still succeed.

"A lot of us said ‘don't start it,' and he was the one who said ‘stop,' " said a BP technician who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the company. "But having done all we had already done, I thought we should have completed the final two operations. He was not keen to listen. BP people said, ‘Let's try these last two steps,' but he said, ‘No, stop.' "

That's right Dear Readers. If Dr Chu had kept his mouth shut, BP's top kill probably would have succeeded and the damn hole would have been plugged by Memorial Day. More oil may have fouled the Gulf of Mexico because of Steven Chu than because of BP!

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