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Author Topic: Energy Politics & Science  (Read 127109 times)
DougMacG
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« Reply #550 on: October 27, 2014, 11:02:53 AM »

With the abundance now available, why are we NOT making it available for cars, trucks and jets more quickly?  Why are voters letting Democrats get away with blocking pipelines for safest transport of our cleanest fuels.  Forget "energy independence".  We should be producing, transporting, exporting and importing.  Government has a role in keeping it clean and keeping it safe.  After that, let the market sort it out.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8224295.stm

"Natural gas is our cleanest fossil fuel. It can be used in cars, to generate electricity. It can be liquefied and used as jet aviation fuel," he says.  "The natural gas that's being used in this country at this time can really get us to energy independence."
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DougMacG
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« Reply #551 on: October 27, 2014, 11:07:03 AM »

Taking the Carbon Out of Coal
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/10/27/taking_the_carbon_out_of_coal_124374.html

When coal burns, it emits a "flue gas" teeming with hard-to-separate pollutants -- but it doesn't have to. Instead, it can create a simple flow of carbon dioxide that's easy to capture.

That's the bold idea behind coal-direct chemical looping, or CDCL. The technology has been proven only in the lab, and it has many hurdles to clear before it can be used to generate electricity and capture carbon on a commercial scale. But it holds the promise of electricity from coal with very little pollution, in a nation where coal provides 18 percent of all energy and 24 percent of all carbon emissions.

According to an economic analysis Ohio State helped to conduct, if brought to a commercial scale, CDCL could capture 96.5 percent of the carbon released during the process while increasing the cost of electricity by 28.8 percent.

In a best-case scenario, the demonstration could be built later this decade, followed by a commercial plant in the 2020s.
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ccp
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« Reply #552 on: October 29, 2014, 07:03:53 AM »

Thanks Doug.  Interesting promise of technology.  I don't know if many coal companies can survive two more years of Duh Bamster and if the Hill/Bill team gets in it might be curtains for them.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #553 on: October 29, 2014, 09:55:01 AM »

It's frustrating that this technology is commercially a decade out, but it is also disingenuous to hype climate predictions for a century as if technology advancement is over.  All that is needed to solve our energy and environmental challenges is the will to do it and prosperity - the means to do it. 

The centrally planned governments always had the worst environmental records, and still do.
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ccp
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« Reply #554 on: November 02, 2014, 10:00:53 AM »

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2014/11/02/opec-oil-stocks-energy-gas-middle-east/18247191/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #555 on: December 11, 2014, 07:05:37 PM »

This struck me as well-balanced and fair.


http://www.vox.com/2014/11/14/7216751/keystone-pipeline-facts-controversy
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ccp
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« Reply #556 on: December 19, 2014, 08:48:42 AM »

And surely Obama wants much lower energy prices (sarcasm emphasized).  How is this for liberal spin and twisting logic on its head?:

How Obama (and Bush) helped drive down oil prices
Yahoo Finance By Rick Newman
21 hours ago

 In this Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 photo, Quick Trip clerk Roxana Valverde adjusts the gas price sign numbers at a Tolleson, Ariz. QT convenience store as gas prices continue to tumble nationwide. The price of oil has fallen by nearly half in just six months, a surprising and steep plunge that has consumers cheering, producers howling and economists wringing their hands over whether this is a good or bad thing. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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View photo
In this Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 photo, Quick Trip clerk Roxana Valverde adjusts the gas price sign numbers at a Tolleson, Ariz. QT convenience store as gas prices continue to tumble nationwide. The price of oil has fallen by nearly half in just six months, a surprising and steep plunge that has consumers cheering, producers howling and economists wringing their hands over whether this is a good or bad thing. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Few people foresaw the nearly 50% plunge in oil prices this year. But the forces reshaping the oil market have been aligning for nearly a decade, with part of the impetus coming from Washington.

In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which President George W. Bush promptly signed. The EISA raised federal mileage requirements for passenger cars for the first time since 1990, in an effort to reduce U.S. gas consumption and make America less dependent on foreign oil.

The new rules required automakers to achieve average fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon among all the new vehicles in their fleet by model year 2020 -- up sharply from a requirement of 27.5 MPG for cars and 22.2 MPG for light trucks (pickups and SUVs) at the time.

President Obama raised the MPG goal further in 2012, requiring average fuel economy of 54.5 MPG for all new vehicles sold by model year 2025. Automakers argued that the technology developments necessary to reach those levels would add thousands of dollars to the cost of a car, but so far they've been making progress without causing sticker shock for car buyers. A combination of electric vehicles, hybrids, diesels and far more efficient gas engines has helped improve overall average fuel economy by 5.3 MPG during the last seven years, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. That's a big improvement that would cut the typical driver's gas consumption by about 70 gallons a year.

Overall, the MPG improvements have been working, with lower U.S. oil and gas consumption achieved, as this chart shows:

View photo
.Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
The consumption decline that began in 2007 is partly due to people driving less during the recession of 2008 and 2009. However, gas consumption continued to fall until 2012, before ticking up in 2013. Even with that slight increase, gas consumption last year was at 2002 levels. When adjusted for population growth, consumption has fallen to levels of the late 1960s, when there were far fewer cars per household.

Reduced gas consumption in the United States is hardly the only factor affecting the price of oil, which trades globally and is determined by many variables. A surge in U.S. crude production has added to global supplies and aided in pushing down prices. Saudi Arabia has kept its own production levels steady rather than decreasing output -- as it has done during past gluts -- to prop up prices. Meanwhile, a sluggish global economy has kept demand for oil lower than many producers expected.

Still, weaker demand for gasoline in the world's largest economy accounts for some of the slack demand for oil. With the government's performance generally poor during the last decade of partisan fighting, the hike in MPG standards is a rare example of a policy with bipartisan support accomplishing what it was supposed to.

That's helping now in political confrontations with long-time foes such as Russia and Iran. Bush and Obama couldn't have foreseen the way cheap oil is inadvertently helping the West turn up the pressure on Russia in response to its role in Ukraine's civil war. But Iran and other oil producers, such as Venezuela, are U.S. antagonists that policymakers have long sought leverage over. Score one for Washington.

Fuel-economy improvements should continue and even accelerate, since the biggest gains are slated for the years approaching 2025. From 2020 through 2025, for instance, the MPG goal will rise from 41.7 MPG to 54.5, a 31% increase. From 2009 through 2014, it rose from 27.5 to 34.1, a 24% improvement. (MPG figures are slightly different from the Michigan numbers, which measure actual fuel economy of vehicles on the road.) That will continue dampening U.S. oil and gas consumption for the foreseeable future.

Demand for oil and gasoline will rise elsewhere, as more people drive in emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil. But those nations also will benefit as technology developed to reduce gas consumption in America proliferates and becomes cheaper. And that's an American export they won't even have to pay for.

Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #557 on: December 23, 2014, 07:21:29 PM »

One POV:

http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/12/23/is-saudi-arabia-trying-to-cripple-american-fracking-oil-iran/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=*Editors%20Picks&utm_campaign=2014_EditorsPicksRS23%2F12
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DougMacG
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« Reply #558 on: December 25, 2014, 12:17:39 AM »


This makes perfect sense to me.  Saudis don't mind slowing the US fracking acceleration but their direct threat is Iran and indirect threat is Russia.  What they say to save face in front of fellow cartel members is just that.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #559 on: January 19, 2015, 10:47:08 AM »

http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/10/07/central-california-aquifers-contaminated-billions-gallons-fracking-wastewater

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2014/fracking-10-06-2014.html

I find this deeply disconcerting.
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G M
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« Reply #560 on: January 19, 2015, 12:00:18 PM »


Well, we know enviro groups would never hype things to scare the public.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #561 on: January 19, 2015, 01:24:28 PM »

So, what are the facts here?
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G M
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« Reply #562 on: January 19, 2015, 01:27:41 PM »

So, what are the facts here?


Unknown, which is why it's important to find out what they are before falling for lefty scaremongering.
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G M
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« Reply #563 on: January 19, 2015, 01:32:20 PM »

http://energyindepth.org/california/center-biological-diversity-scare-tactics-fracking/
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G M
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« Reply #564 on: January 19, 2015, 01:43:28 PM »

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/01/top_saudi_lets_the_cat_out_of_the_bag.html#.Us1chIeAaGE.facebook
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #565 on: January 19, 2015, 02:10:01 PM »

Thank you.  I have posted both of them back on the challenge/discussion in which I am engaged on my FB page.
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G M
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« Reply #566 on: January 19, 2015, 02:19:38 PM »

http://coloradopeakpolitics.com/2014/02/05/fractivists-discredited-again-salazar-says-fracking-is-safe/

If one cares about the environment, then fracking and nuclear power should be advocated.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #567 on: January 19, 2015, 02:36:48 PM »

They have answered with this:  http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Waste-Water-from-Oil-Fracking-Injected-into-Clean-Aquifers-282733051.html
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G M
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« Reply #568 on: January 19, 2015, 02:44:28 PM »


It appears the state regulatory agency may have screwed up. So, the answer is more regulation? perhaps higher taxes and more state government employees?
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G M
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« Reply #569 on: January 19, 2015, 02:49:12 PM »

If the "environmentalists" want to be concerned about real pollution doing real harm, they'll stop California from outsourcing it's air pollution to the 4 corners and stop subsidizing toxins killing and maiming poor chinese who produce "green" products for "environmentalists" to pose with.
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G M
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« Reply #570 on: January 19, 2015, 03:03:29 PM »

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia-july-dec09-china_12-14/
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G M
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« Reply #571 on: January 19, 2015, 03:15:22 PM »

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=C4pnlWJT6FI&feature=youtu.be

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DougMacG
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« Reply #572 on: January 24, 2015, 09:25:06 AM »

http://m.townhall.com/columnists/pauldriessen/2015/01/24/methane-deceptions-n1947451#
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ccp
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« Reply #573 on: January 24, 2015, 09:42:46 AM »

I just reread this new item with the headlines Senate votes 99 to 1 that climate change is real.   I didn't read the small print that it left out language that states it was man made.    LOL.   The Repubs pulled a fast one.   Yet the MSM does not report it.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/senate-climate-change-vote-114463.html
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DougMacG
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« Reply #574 on: January 29, 2015, 10:51:48 AM »

A short, clever, educational video made by the Pacific Research Institute featuring the charismatic wink Steve Hayward of Powerline:

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/01/whatever-happened-to-peak-oil.php

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ccp
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« Reply #575 on: January 29, 2015, 11:18:11 AM »

Yes I remember from the Gilder days in  the late 90's an article in Scientific American from a scientist who was sure oil reserves where on their way down.

Now we have them drilling miles below the ocean floor, in the arctic, oil sands and of course this:

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21582482-few-businesspeople-have-done-much-change-world-george-mitchell-father
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #576 on: January 30, 2015, 09:17:45 AM »



Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change, Poll Finds
An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future.
In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science of human-caused global warming.
Although the poll found that climate change was not a top issue in determining a person’s vote, a candidate’s position on climate change influences how a person will vote. For example, 67 percent of respondents, including 48 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents, said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who said that human-caused climate change is a hoax.
READ MORE »
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/politics/most-americans-support-government-action-on-climate-change-poll-finds.html?emc=edit_na_20150130

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #577 on: March 14, 2015, 03:15:39 PM »

WSJ

y
Erin Ailworth and
Benoît Faucon
March 13, 2015 7:21 p.m. ET
151 COMMENTS

The ocean of oil from U.S. shale drove crude prices back toward six-year lows Friday, and American energy companies say they are poised to unleash a further flood that would keep prices from returning to lofty levels for a long time.

The International Energy Agency reinforced the prospect of a prolonged slump in energy prices Friday, saying U.S. oil output was surprisingly strong in February and rapidly filling all available storage tanks. The Paris-based energy watchdog said this could lead to another sharp drop in crude prices, which fell by about 50% late last year.

The report sent oil prices tumbling around the world, with the global benchmark Brent crude falling $2.41 to $54.67 a barrel. The U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate lost $2.21 to settle at $44.84, less than 40 cents above a six-year low it reached in late January. Last summer, both traded well above $100.

It was only last month that the IEA said a price recovery seemed inevitable because the U.S. production boom was likely to cool. Instead, “U.S. supply so far shows precious little sign of slowing down,” the agency said Friday. “Quite to the contrary, it continues to defy expectations.”

Independent shale-oil producers have slashed their planned 2015 spending on drilling by $50 billion, compared with last year’s, but have promised to increase production by focusing on their best oil fields. Total U.S. crude oil production hit a high of 9.4 million barrels a day in the week ended March 6, according to federal data.
Advertisement

Now many are adopting a new strategy that will allow them to pump even more crude as soon as oil prices begin to rise. They are drilling wells but holding off on hydraulic fracturing, or forcing in water and chemicals to free oil from shale formations. The delay in the start of fracking lets companies store oil in the ground in a way that enables them to tap it unusually quickly if they wish—and flood the market again.

This strategy could put a cap on how high oil prices can rise once they are recovering, said Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup Inc.

“We’re in slightly unexplored territory,” Mr. Morse said. “It’s an experiment—a big, big experiment.”
ENLARGE

EOG Resources Inc., an oil producer based in Texas, is drilling about 285 wells that it won’t start finishing off until crude oil’s price rebounds to between $60 and $65 a barrel.

“When oil prices recover, EOG will be prepared to resume strong double-digit oil growth,” Chief Executive Bill Thomas said recently.

Some other big names in U.S. energy also are delaying well completions, among them Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Apache Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Continental Resources Inc. These four plus EOG pumped 312 million barrels of oil in the U.S. in 2014, or almost 10% of American crude production.

The number of wells in Texas and North Dakota that have been drilled but aren’t yet pumping is at least 3,000, RBC Capital Markets estimates. That oil still in the ground “provides a war chest that could temper fundamental price spikes in the coming year,” RBC analyst Scott Hanold wrote in a Friday note.

This essentially is more U.S. crude in storage, akin to that in the tanks now brimming. The U.S. has 449 million barrels of oil sloshing around in tanks, the highest level on record and almost 70% of capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Even so, Jim Krane, an energy fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, questioned whether U.S. producers would be able to adjust oil production as quickly as, for instance, Saudi Arabia has proved able to do in the past. “We’ll probably have more price volatility because even as nimble as shale is, it’s not as nimble as OPEC,” he said. The shale producers “can’t just go out and turn a valve.”

It isn’t as though the price plunge hasn’t affected production.

The number of oil rigs drilling in the U.S. declined by 56 this week to 866, a 46% drop since early October when oil was traded for about $90 a barrel, according to oilfield-service company Baker Hughes Inc. Some production cutbacks are starting to materialize.

North Dakota regulators said Thursday the state’s oil output declined 3% in January from the record level reached in December.

Market observers have been waiting for U.S. shale production to cool down since November, when Saudi Arabia said it would keep pumping oil at high levels to preserve its own customer base. Some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said at the time that the move would force American producers to cut pumping because their oil is relatively expensive to produce.

U.S. companies aren’t necessarily looking to fill OPEC’s shoes as the so-called swing producer that can adjust production to help set price levels.

For many, delaying oil production from drilled wells is a financial decision; finishing off a well and putting it into service accounts for 60% of the well’s total price.

By pushing off that expense, companies hope they can earn more from higher oil prices once they finally do pump and sell their crude. They also are expecting their costs will fall as oilfield-service providers vie for their business.

Harold Hamm, chief executive of Continental Resources Inc., a producer in North Dakota, has urged peers to hold off on completing as many wells as possible.

Continental is waiting to hook up 127 already-drilled wells, postponing up to $1 million in spending apiece.

“Save that money,” Mr. Hamm said recently.

“Avoid selling that production in this poor market and wait for service costs to fall before completing those wells. Most people are doing that,” he said.

Write to Erin Ailworth at Erin.Ailworth@wsj.com
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #578 on: March 17, 2015, 08:08:55 PM »


by
Matt Ridley
March 13, 2015 5:33 p.m. ET
WSJ

The environmental movement has advanced three arguments in recent years for giving up fossil fuels: (1) that we will soon run out of them anyway; (2) that alternative sources of energy will price them out of the marketplace; and (3) that we cannot afford the climate consequences of burning them.

These days, not one of the three arguments is looking very healthy. In fact, a more realistic assessment of our energy and environmental situation suggests that, for decades to come, we will continue to rely overwhelmingly on the fossil fuels that have contributed so dramatically to the world’s prosperity and progress.

In 2013, about 87% of the energy that the world consumed came from fossil fuels, a figure that—remarkably—was unchanged from 10 years before. This roughly divides into three categories of fuel and three categories of use: oil used mainly for transport, gas used mainly for heating, and coal used mainly for electricity.

Over this period, the overall volume of fossil-fuel consumption has increased dramatically, but with an encouraging environmental trend: a diminishing amount of carbon-dioxide emissions per unit of energy produced. The biggest contribution to decarbonizing the energy system has been the switch from high-carbon coal to lower-carbon gas in electricity generation.

On a global level, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar have contributed hardly at all to the drop in carbon emissions, and their modest growth has merely made up for a decline in the fortunes of zero-carbon nuclear energy. (The reader should know that I have an indirect interest in coal through the ownership of land in Northern England on which it is mined, but I nonetheless applaud the displacement of coal by gas in recent years.)

The argument that fossil fuels will soon run out is dead, at least for a while. The collapse of the price of oil over the past six months is the result of abundance: an inevitable consequence of the high oil prices of recent years, which stimulated innovation in hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, seismology and information technology. The U.S.—the country with the oldest and most developed hydrocarbon fields—has found itself once again, surprisingly, at the top of the energy-producing league, rivaling Saudi Arabia in oil and Russia in gas.

The shale genie is now out of the bottle. Even if the current low price drives out some high-cost oil producers—in the North Sea, Canada, Russia, Iran and offshore, as well as in America—shale drillers can step back in whenever the price rebounds. As Mark Hill of Allegro Development Corporation argued last week, the frackers are currently experiencing their own version of Moore’s law: a rapid fall in the cost and time it takes to drill a well, along with a rapid rise in the volume of hydrocarbons they are able to extract.

And the shale revolution has yet to go global. When it does, oil and gas in tight rock formations will give the world ample supplies of hydrocarbons for decades, if not centuries. Lurking in the wings for later technological breakthroughs is methane hydrate, a seafloor source of gas that exceeds in quantity all the world’s coal, oil and gas put together.

So those who predict the imminent exhaustion of fossil fuels are merely repeating the mistakes of the U.S. presidential commission that opined in 1922 that “already the output of gas has begun to wane. Production of oil cannot long maintain its present rate.” Or President Jimmy Carter when he announced on television in 1977 that “we could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.”

That fossil fuels are finite is a red herring. The Atlantic Ocean is finite, but that does not mean that you risk bumping into France if you row out of a harbor in Maine. The buffalo of the American West were infinite, in the sense that they could breed, yet they came close to extinction. It is an ironic truth that no nonrenewable resource has ever run dry, while renewable resources—whales, cod, forests, passenger pigeons—have frequently done so.

The second argument for giving up fossil fuels is that new rivals will shortly price them out of the market. But it is not happening. The great hope has long been nuclear energy, but even if there is a rush to build new nuclear power stations over the next few years, most will simply replace old ones due to close. The world’s nuclear output is down from 6% of world energy consumption in 2003 to 4% today. It is forecast to inch back up to just 6.7% by 2035, according the Energy Information Administration.
Nuclear’s problem is cost. In meeting the safety concerns of environmentalists, politicians and regulators added requirements for extra concrete, steel and pipework, and even more for extra lawyers, paperwork and time. The effect was to make nuclear plants into huge and lengthy boondoggles with no competition or experimentation to drive down costs. Nuclear is now able to compete with fossil fuels only when it is subsidized.

As for renewable energy, hydroelectric is the biggest and cheapest supplier, but it has the least capacity for expansion. Technologies that tap the energy of waves and tides remain unaffordable and impractical, and most experts think that this won’t change in a hurry. Geothermal is a minor player for now. And bioenergy—that is, wood, ethanol made from corn or sugar cane, or diesel made from palm oil—is proving an ecological disaster: It encourages deforestation and food-price hikes that cause devastation among the world’s poor, and per unit of energy produced, it creates even more carbon dioxide than coal.

Wind power, for all the public money spent on its expansion, has inched up to—wait for it—1% of world energy consumption in 2013. Solar, for all the hype, has not even managed that: If we round to the nearest whole number, it accounts for 0% of world energy consumption.

Both wind and solar are entirely reliant on subsidies for such economic viability as they have. World-wide, the subsidies given to renewable energy currently amount to roughly $10 per gigajoule: These sums are paid by consumers to producers, so they tend to go from the poor to the rich, often to landowners (I am a landowner and can testify that I receive and refuse many offers of risk-free wind and solar subsidies).

It is true that some countries subsidize the use of fossil fuels, but they do so at a much lower rate—the world average is about $1.20 per gigajoule—and these are mostly subsidies for consumers (not producers), so they tend to help the poor, for whom energy costs are a disproportionate share of spending.

The costs of renewable energy are coming down, especially in the case of solar. But even if solar panels were free, the power they produce would still struggle to compete with fossil fuel—except in some very sunny locations—because of all the capital equipment required to concentrate and deliver the energy. This is to say nothing of the great expanses of land on which solar facilities must be built and the cost of retaining sufficient conventional generator capacity to guarantee supply on a dark, cold, windless evening.

The two fundamental problems that renewables face are that they take up too much space and produce too little energy. Consider Solar Impulse, the solar-powered airplane now flying around the world. Despite its huge wingspan (similar to a 747), slow speed and frequent stops, the only cargo that it can carry is the pilots themselves. That is a good metaphor for the limitations of renewables.

To run the U.S. economy entirely on wind would require a wind farm the size of Texas, California and New Mexico combined—backed up by gas on windless days. To power it on wood would require a forest covering two-thirds of the U.S., heavily and continually harvested.

John Constable, who will head a new Energy Institute at the University of Buckingham in Britain, points out that the trickle of energy that human beings managed to extract from wind, water and wood before the Industrial Revolution placed a great limit on development and progress. The incessant toil of farm laborers generated so little surplus energy in the form of food for men and draft animals that the accumulation of capital, such as machinery, was painfully slow. Even as late as the 18th century, this energy-deprived economy was sufficient to enrich daily life for only a fraction of the population.

Our old enemy, the second law of thermodynamics, is the problem here. As a teenager’s bedroom generally illustrates, left to its own devices, everything in the world becomes less ordered, more chaotic, tending toward “entropy,” or thermodynamic equilibrium. To reverse this tendency and make something complex, ordered and functional requires work. It requires energy.

The more energy you have, the more intricate, powerful and complex you can make a system. Just as human bodies need energy to be ordered and functional, so do societies. In that sense, fossil fuels were a unique advance because they allowed human beings to create extraordinary patterns of order and complexity—machines and buildings—with which to improve their lives.

The result of this great boost in energy is what the economic historian and philosopher Deirdre McCloskey calls the Great Enrichment. In the case of the U.S., there has been a roughly 9,000% increase in the value of goods and services available to the average American since 1800, almost all of which are made with, made of, powered by or propelled by fossil fuels.

Still, more than a billion people on the planet have yet to get access to electricity and to experience the leap in living standards that abundant energy brings. This is not just an inconvenience for them: Indoor air pollution from wood fires kills four million people a year. The next time that somebody at a rally against fossil fuels lectures you about her concern for the fate of her grandchildren, show her a picture of an African child dying today from inhaling the dense muck of a smoky fire.

Notice, too, the ways in which fossil fuels have contributed to preserving the planet. As the American author and fossil-fuels advocate Alex Epstein points out in a bravely unfashionable book, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” the use of coal halted and then reversed the deforestation of Europe and North America. The turn to oil halted the slaughter of the world’s whales and seals for their blubber. Fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food, thus feeding a growing population while sparing land for wild nature.

To throw away these immense economic, environmental and moral benefits, you would have to have a very good reason. The one most often invoked today is that we are wrecking the planet’s climate. But are we?

Although the world has certainly warmed since the 19th century, the rate of warming has been slow and erratic. There has been no increase in the frequency or severity of storms or droughts, no acceleration of sea-level rise. Arctic sea ice has decreased, but Antarctic sea ice has increased. At the same time, scientists are agreed that the extra carbon dioxide in the air has contributed to an improvement in crop yields and a roughly 14% increase in the amount of all types of green vegetation on the planet since 1980.

That carbon-dioxide emissions should cause warming is not a new idea. In 1938, the British scientist Guy Callender thought that he could already detect warming as a result of carbon-dioxide emissions. He reckoned, however, that this was “likely to prove beneficial to mankind” by shifting northward the climate where cultivation was possible.
Only in the 1970s and 1980s did scientists begin to say that the mild warming expected as a direct result of burning fossil fuels—roughly a degree Celsius per doubling of carbon-dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere—might be greatly amplified by water vapor and result in dangerous warming of two to four degrees a century or more. That “feedback” assumption of high “sensitivity” remains in virtually all of the mathematical models used to this day by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

And yet it is increasingly possible that it is wrong. As Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute has written, since 2000, 14 peer-reviewed papers, published by 42 authors, many of whom are key contributors to the reports of the IPCC, have concluded that climate sensitivity is low because net feedbacks are modest. They arrive at this conclusion based on observed temperature changes, ocean-heat uptake and the balance between warming and cooling emissions (mainly sulfate aerosols). On average, they find sensitivity to be 40% lower than the models on which the IPCC relies.

If these conclusions are right, they would explain the failure of the Earth’s surface to warm nearly as fast as predicted over the past 35 years, a time when—despite carbon-dioxide levels rising faster than expected—the warming rate has never reached even two-tenths of a degree per decade and has slowed down to virtually nothing in the past 15 to 20 years. This is one reason the latest IPCC report did not give a “best estimate” of sensitivity and why it lowered its estimate of near-term warming.
Most climate scientists remain reluctant to abandon the models and take the view that the current “hiatus” has merely delayed rapid warming. A turning point to dangerously rapid warming could be around the corner, even though it should have shown up by now. So it would be wise to do something to cut our emissions, so long as that something does not hurt the poor and those struggling to reach a modern standard of living.

We should encourage the switch from coal to gas in the generation of electricity, provide incentives for energy efficiency, get nuclear power back on track and keep developing solar power and electricity storage. We should also invest in research on ways to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, by fertilizing the ocean or fixing it through carbon capture and storage. Those measures all make sense. And there is every reason to promote open-ended research to find some unexpected new energy technology.

The one thing that will not work is the one thing that the environmental movement insists upon: subsidizing wealthy crony capitalists to build low-density, low-output, capital-intensive, land-hungry renewable energy schemes, while telling the poor to give up the dream of getting richer through fossil fuels.

Mr. Ridley is the author of “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves” and a member of the British House of Lords.
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« Reply #579 on: March 17, 2015, 08:38:48 PM »

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 How U.S. LNG Production Will Ultimately Exploit Global Markets
Analysis
March 13, 2015 | 09:08 GMT
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Cheniere's LNG facility under construction at Sabine Pass in Louisiana. (ESRI/Gettys)
Summary

The growth of liquefied natural gas production in the United States is a charged political topic because of the standoff between Russia and the West. Russian energy giant Gazprom recently shrugged off the potential for U.S. LNG exports in European markets, noting that Russia can beat the United States on price. But given the number of natural gas projects under construction in North America, it is only a matter of time before the United States is influential in global markets. With the low cost of oil and declining LNG prices, it is important to examine the markets where U.S. LNG exports are most competitive. Though export costs make it difficult for the United States to enter European and Asian markets, should oil prices begin to rise, the linkage between LNG and oil prices in Asia will make the United States more competitive, and subsequently influential.

Analysis

In a world of low energy prices, the cost of shipping LNG from the United States to Europe or Asia is prohibitively expensive. Countries such as Qatar, Algeria and Norway can export LNG to Europe at a much-reduced cost, pricing the United States out of the market. In Asia, countries such as Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia export LNG at prices the United States cannot match, at least for spot exports and short-term LNG contracts.

U.S. Competitiveness Abroad

In any attempt to undermine Russia's pipeline exports to Europe, the United States is at a disadvantage. Natural gas transportation by pipeline is significantly cheaper in most cases than building and employing expensive LNG port infrastructure. In terms of natural gas production and distribution, Russia's operating costs are low and their export infrastructure is already built. Some of Russia's most important markets, including those in Central Europe, already have spot prices around $6.60. Even now Russia's natural gas prices have not bottomed out, and prices at LNG hubs remain just as low.

Meanwhile, prices in the United Kingdom are around $7.16 per one million British thermal units (mmbtu) and about $6.92 per mmbtu in Belgium. However, some countries, such as the Baltic states, have proved willing to pay a little more for U.S. natural gas to keep Russian influence at a minimum. Lithuania and Houston-based company Cheniere Energy Inc. have a nonbinding natural gas deal for purchases, but only if prices are somewhat comparable to European norms.

Existing contracts coming out of the United States are based off the Henry Hub spot prices index, with a fixed fee added for liquefaction and transportation costs. Cheniere has signed several 20-year contracts for its Sabine Pass LNG facility, located in Louisiana, on the border with Texas. The contract terms typically run about 115 percent of the price of U.S. natural gas (currently $2.81 per mmbtu) with an additional $3.00 per mmbtu for liquefaction fees. After other charges for shipping, insurance and regasification are factored in, the total cost of U.S. natural gas at LNG terminals in Europe is anywhere from $7 to $8. Comparatively, natural gas prices in the United States are relatively low and will probably increase regardless of oil prices — oil and natural gas prices in the United States are not linked. In short, the United States is only marginally competitive at current LNG prices and cannot beat Russia's low potential operating costs.

The same disadvantages the United States faces in Europe also apply to Asia. LNG prices to South Korea, China and Japan are about the same as they are in Europe, only the cost of shipping is more because of the longer distances involved. With new LNG export capacity coming online in Australia, the United States has to compete with projects that are as capital intensive but closer to their export markets.

The Scale of Influence

While the United States does not threaten Russia's market share in Europe, or eventually Asia, the potential for exported U.S. LNG does improve Europe's leverage against Russia by providing an alternative source to draw from. Moreover, it helps create an LNG price ceiling when negotiating with Russia or other providers of natural gas. In time, the growth of North American LNG will force traditional import partners to undercut the price of new sources of natural gas.

The exact scale of U.S. LNG exports is unclear and largely dependent on price. Most likely exports will be in the order of 50 billion cubic meters, a sizable addition to the global LNG supply. In addition, between now and 2020, the United States and Australia alone could increase the global LNG supply by as much as 150 bcm; the market in 2013 was just 325 bcm. The Sabine Pass LNG facility will ramp up production later this year, but other facilities still under construction will not see first production until 2017 or 2018 at the earliest. Russia and other competitors still have a few years to secure markets and undermine potential LNG contracts by offering lower prices.

The global growth of LNG markets will help European markets move away from contracts indexed to oil prices, as an alternative to creating natural gas pricing hubs. This will eventually enable natural gas and oil prices to decouple, as seen in the United States. This process is important for the European Union and is a cornerstone of its Third Energy Package and Energy Union Package. Even Russia has begun transitioning in some cases, the most notable example being Gazprom's May 2014 deal with Italy: Gazprom caved on the pricing mechanism to ENI, basing it on spot prices instead of Gazprom's preferred contracts, which are in turn based on oil prices.

Should oil prices increase, Asian LNG prices would see the biggest change, dominated as they are by oil-indexed long-term contracts. Because the Asian market is roughly five times the size of Europe's, most of the contracts signed by U.S. LNG exporters have been with the region. South Korea, China and Japan are also three top importers, offering more potential and greater opportunity.

The United States is also in a position to exploit local markets in need of natural gas, such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, countries distanced from LNG suppliers further afield. However, the overall LNG markets of Brazil, Mexico and Argentina are small, and all three are major energy producers in their own right.

With all these factors in mind, the five U.S. LNG projects that are already under construction will eventually come online, much like those under construction in Australia. But many U.S. projects without final investment decisions will probably get delayed and may not even be built at all. The expansion of existing projects under construction is a more plausible option. Ultimately, the United States will not be able to compete with Russia in Europe and Asia directly. Rather, the addition of its sizable LNG exports to the global market will help Europe shift its contracts with Russia and lead to more opportunities in Asia.
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« Reply #580 on: March 21, 2015, 11:54:15 PM »

I have always said there is a proper role for regulation to protect the water table.  My initial response to the following is that it seems like a suitable step at this time.



by Amy Harder and
Daniel Gilbert
Updated March 20, 2015 7:11 p.m. ET
234 COMMENTS

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration issued comprehensive rules on hydraulic fracturing, trying to set a national standard for controversial drilling practices that have helped fuel the U.S. oil and natural-gas boom.

Friday’s move sparked immediate criticism from energy companies that claimed the rules are too onerous. Two industry groups filed a lawsuit minutes after the announcement, seeking to block the rules in a federal court. Environmental groups said the rules don’t go far enough.

The new rules from the Interior Department have been in the works since 2012 and apply to oil-and-gas drilling on federal lands, which produce 11% of the natural gas consumed in the U.S. and 5% of the oil, according to data from the agency. More than 90% of new land-based wells in the U.S. use hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.

Drilling on private or state-owned land won’t be subject to the new federal standards, but states and companies could move to bring their practices in line with the U.S. While big energy-producing statessuch as Colorado, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas regulate fracking already, there have been no overarching standards.

“It’s a complex matrix of regulations out there,” said Neil Kornze, director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management. “In some places, this has been addressed. In other places it has not. We’ve attempted to build a rule that will interface in a positive way with those states that have moved forward and will provide a common baseline across the country in all states.”

Fracking involves blasting a slurry of water, sand and chemicals into a well to break up dense rock and allow the outward flow of oil and gas. The process has unlocked vast reserves of oil and gas across the U.S.

But fracking is controversial because of qualms about environmental impact, especially the potential to contaminate drinking-water supplies.

“There is a lot of fear and public concern, particularly about the safety of groundwater and the impact of these operations,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Friday.

Analysts said parts of the federal regulations are as strict as or stricter than what many states have implemented, though state rules vary.

For example, the new federal rules require more stringent standards than many states have for storage of toxic fluids recovered from a fracking well. U.S. officials said companies must secure wastewater in covered tanks before permanent disposal, instead of using pits dug in the ground.
Read More

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While some energy firms have objected to the higher costs of storing fracking-related wastewater in tanks, federal officials concluded that it would help guard against spills.

Eric Kraus, a spokesman for Clean Harbors Inc., a Norwell, Mass., provider of wastewater treatment and other oil-and-gas-industry services, said the storage rules “would be a significant change to methods employed today.”

Ten states now require at least some of the fluids used in fracking to be stored in covered tanks, said Resources for the Future, an environmental think tank in Washington. Storing leftover liquids in open pits has been common in Texas and North Dakota, which recently outlawed the practice.

“We think this is going to be a template for how the federal government expects the states to regulate water as part of their own oversight of fracking,” said Kevin Book, managing director of energy research firm ClearView Energy Partners.

The Interior Department estimated that complying with the new rules will cost $11,400 per drilling operation, or less than 1% of the cost of drilling a well. The figure roughly doubled from an earlier proposal.

The government estimated an industrywide cost of $32 million a year, up from an earlier estimate of $12 million to $20 million.

The likelihood of higher fracking costs comes as U.S. oil and gas producers are struggling with persistently low natural-gas prices and a roughly 50% drop in the price of crude in the past year. The collapse in oil prices has prompted many drillers to slash their budgets and lay off workers.

Exxon Mobil Corp. and other energy companies have expressed concerns that new federal rules would increase how long it takes to process drilling applications. But the drilling slowdown as a result of low oil prices might ease some of those concerns as companies apply for fewer permits. The number of rigs drilling on land in the U.S. fell to a new six-year low on Friday, according to oil-field services company Baker Hughes Inc.

Under the Interior Department rules, energy companies also will be required to test the quality of cement work designed to prevent natural gas from seeping outside a well. The rule will require companies seeking drilling permission to provide more information about existing wells nearby. In some cases, drilling near old, abandoned wells has caused gas to pollute aquifers.

Barry Russell, president and chief executive of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the federal government’s “so-called baseline standards will threaten America’s economic upturn, while further deterring energy development on federal lands.”

The trade group, which says it represents producers that drill 95% of the oil and natural-gas wells in the U.S., and regional group the Western Energy Alliance sued the Interior Department in U.S. District Court in Wyoming.

The trade groups said the new rules are a “reaction to unsubstantiated concerns” and should be thrown out. Interior Department officials said they expect the rules to withstand challenges.

In a move that upset environmental groups, the new rules require companies to publicly disclose chemicals they use through an industry-run website called FracFocus within 30 days of completing the fracking process.

Environmental groups had pushed for upfront disclosures directly to the Interior Department.

“While this proposal has improved from previous versions, it represents a missed opportunity to set a high bar for protections that would truly increase transparency and reduce the impacts,” said Madeleine Foote, legislative representative for the League of Conservation Voters.

Companies have been fracking for decades, but the practice has come under scrutiny in recent years as its use skyrocketed.

—Erin Ailworth contributed to this article.
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« Reply #581 on: April 05, 2015, 04:37:52 AM »

PRAGUE, Okla. — Yanked without warning from a deep sleep, Jennifer Lin Cooper, whose family has lived near here for more than a half-century, could think only that the clamor enveloping her house was coming from a helicopter landing on her roof. She was wrong.

A 5.0-magnitude earthquake — the first of three as strong or stronger over several days in November 2011 — had peeled the brick facade from the $117,000 home she bought the year before. Ms. Cooper, 36, could not get out until her father pried a stuck storm door off the front entrance. Repairs have so far cost $12,000 and forced her to take a second job, at night, to pay the bill.

At a packed town hall meeting days later, Ms. Cooper said, state officials called the shocks, including a 5.7 tremor that was Oklahoma’s largest ever, “an act of nature, and it was nobody’s fault.”

Many scientists disagree. They say those quakes, and thousands of others before and since, are mainly the work of humans, caused by wells used to bury vast amounts of wastewater from oil and gas exploration deep in the earth near fault zones. And they warn that continuing to entomb such huge quantities risks more dangerous tremors — if not here, then elsewhere in the state’s sprawling well fields.


“As long as you keep injecting wastewater along that fault zone, according to my calculations, you’re going to continue to have earthquakes,” said Arthur F. McGarr, the chief of the induced seismicity project at the federal Earthquake Science Center in Menlo Park, Calif., who has researched the Prague quakes. “I’d be a little worried if I lived there. In fact, I’d be very worried.”

But in a state where oil and gas are economic pillars, elected leaders have been slow to address the problem. And while regulators have taken some protective measures, they lack the money, work force and legal authority to fully address the threats.

More than five years after the quakes began a sharp and steady increase, the strongest action by the Republican governor, Mary Fallin, has been to name a council to exchange information about the tremors. The group meets in secret, and has no mandate to issue recommendations.

The State Legislature is not considering any earthquake legislation. But both houses passed bills this year barring local officials from regulating oil and gas wells in their jurisdictions.

The state seismologist’s office, short-staffed, has stopped analyzing data on tremors smaller than magnitude 2.5 — even though a recent study says those quakes flag hidden seismic hazards “that might prove invaluable for avoiding a damaging earthquake.”

The governor referred an interview request to Michael Teague, her energy and environment secretary. Mr. Teague said the governor’s earthquake council was helping coordinate the response to the shocks and that underfunded regulators and scientists had benefited from efforts to find new state and federal assistance for their work.

“It’s not working well enough if your house is shaking, absolutely no doubt,” he said. “But it’s working very well.”


But others say the political will is missing to confront an earthquake threat tied to Oklahoma’s dominant industry.

It is “a dangerous game of Russian roulette,” said Jason Murphey, the Republican state representative from earthquake-ridden Guthrie, in central Oklahoma. “If a dangerous earthquake happens and causes lots of damage and injuries,” he said, “a cloud will hang over the energy sector for a long time to come.”

If scientists see dangers, many Oklahomans are wary of disrupting an industry so woven into everyday life.

The state’s oil and gas wells gush profits to corporate owners, but also royalties to farmers and homeowners, and tax payments to the state and cities. By some accounts the industry supports as many as one in five Oklahoma jobs. It showers Oklahoma universities with millions of dollars in donations and helps make dreams like Oklahoma City’s N.B.A. franchise, reality.

It is also a major political contributor to Ms. Fallin, legislators and all three elected members of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which oversees oil and gas production and disposal wells.

“We always want to be invited to the prom,” said State Representative Cory Williams, a Democrat from Stillwater, the home of Oklahoma State University and one of the state’s most seismically active areas. “And we’ve decided that oil and gas is the best prom date we’ll ever get, and we don’t want oil and gas to go away.”

Those blessings, however, are not unalloyed.

From 2010 to 2013, Oklahoma oil production jumped by two-thirds and gas production rose by more than one-sixth, federal figures show. The amount of wastewater buried annually rose one-fifth, to nearly 1.1 billion barrels. And Oklahoma went from three earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater to 109 — and to 585 in 2014, and to 750-plus this year, should the current pace continue. In the United States, only Alaska is shaken more.

The Corporation Commission lacks explicit authority to regulate earthquake risks. So it is trying to contain the risks posed by roughly 3,200 active wastewater disposal wells using laws written to control water pollution.

Last spring, the commission began trying to weed out quake risks by scrutinizing wells near larger quakes for operational problems and permit violations. A few dozen wells made modifications; four shut down. It is now difficult to win approval for new wells near stressed faults, active seismic areas or the epicenters of previous quakes above 4.0 magnitude. Regulators significantly expanded the areas under scrutiny last month. Yet the quakes continue.

Privately, some companies are cooperating with regulators and scientists by offering proprietary information about underground faults. Publicly, the industry wants Oklahomans to beware of killing the golden goose.

Many in the industry were reluctant to comment for this article. But Kim Hatfield, the regulatory chairman of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and president of Crawley Petroleum, warned: “A reaction of panic is not useful.”  Shutting down disposal wells and the industry they serve, he added, “will make ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ look like a cheery movie.”

A Surge in Wastewater

The mechanics of wastewater-induced earthquakes are straightforward: Soaked with enough fluid, a layer of rock expands and gets heavier. Earthquakes can occur when the pressure from the fluid reaches a fault, either through direct contact with the soaked rock or indirectly, from the expanding rock. Seismologists have documented such quakes in Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Kansas and elsewhere since the 1960s.


But nowhere have they approached the number and scope of Oklahoma’s quakes, which have rocked a fifth of the state. One reason, scientists suspect, is that Oklahoma’s main waste disposal site, a bed of porous limestone thousands of feet underground, lies close to the hard, highly stressed rock containing the faults that cause quakes.

The salty, sometimes toxic wastewater is a byproduct of extracting oil and gas, whether by hydraulic fracturing of once-unreachable shale deposits, commonly called fracking, or from conventional wells. Most is pumped out of the ground with oil or gas, then returned to the earth in a so-called disposal well, often at a different location.

The Corporation Commission faces a complicated task. It can order a shutdown or operational change only one well at a time, and only if a well violates its operating permit or is clearly tied to an earthquake risk.

But geologists say the sheer volume of waste being buried in an area with many wells — and not any single well — causes most quakes. It often is difficult or impossible to assess blame to a particular well.

Some other states like Arkansas and, this week, Kansas, have imposed blanket shutdowns or cutbacks on wells near active quake zones. “We don’t have the ability or the legal authority to issue a moratorium,” Dana Murphy, one of the three elected corporation commissioners, said in an interview.

“We do have the ability to take certain actions in emergency situations,” she continued. “But that’s emergencies when they start happening. It doesn’t talk about what happens before the emergencies occur.”

The 2011 quakes that damaged Ms. Cooper’s home in Prague (pronounced “prayg”) illustrate the regulators’ limited reach.

Acting on geologists’ suspicions after the first temblor, regulators tested and pored over operations data from three wells — two small ones and a huge one, called Wilzetta, sunk by the Tulsa-based company New Dominion in 1999. They were seeking some definitive cause of the tremor.

They found none. The wells still pump today, even as worried regulators wave off operators who want to sink new ones. Indeed, by December 2013, Wilzetta had nearly doubled its average monthly volume of waste compared with the months before the 2011 shocks.

Without convincing evidence that a well poses a seismic threat, one official said, regulators are powerless to order precautions, much less shutdowns. “Shut it in? How?” said that official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was barred from discussing specific cases. “Show me the cause. Show me the violation.”
Continue reading the main story

Hamstrung, regulators now may have pushed their authority to its limits. Beginning last May, the commission began tightening permits for new disposal wells, requiring seismicity tests and requiring shutdowns if quakes occurred nearby.

More than five years after earthquakes began a sharp and steady increase in Oklahoma, the strongest action by Gov. Mary Fallin has been to name a council to exchange information about the tremors. Credit Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Existing wells were unaffected. But last month the agency required operators of hundreds of wells to prove they were not accidentally pumping wastewater into bedrock, which seismologists say raises earthquake risks.

“We are operating on the assumption that time is of the essence,” a regulatory program manager at the commission, Matt Skinner, said in an interview.

Scientists certainly agree.

Federal seismologists have for a year warned of rising earthquake risks. Last July, researchers stated in Science magazine that wastewater-induced earthquakes were approaching a fault near Oklahoma City capable of producing a magnitude 7.0 shock, though other experts call that unlikely. In January, scientists including Oklahoma’s state seismologist, Austin Holland, cited a rising quake risk and identified three faults capable of “significantly larger” earthquakes.

Last month, a South African geophysicist delivered the most specific warning yet: Another magnitude 5-plus quake could occur by 2016, and one fault running through Stillwater and two other cities potentially could yield up to a magnitude 6.5 shock.



anthony
7 hours ago

Oklahoma, Thanks so much for making Texas look good. I did not think it was possible.

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While scientists worry, political leaders have been slow to recognize the threat.

First elected in 2010, Governor Fallin appointed the earthquake advisory council last September. “Oklahoma has always had seismic activity, but the reality is we are seeing more,” she said then. “It’s important that we study this issue and have sound science that can inform decisions.”

She allowed only last week that wells accidentally drilled into rock containing faults could “potentially” set off shocks. Scientists say that is only one factor at play in the quakes.

The governor’s 12-member earthquake advisory council, drawn from industry, government, the Legislature and academia, works as an information clearinghouse, said Mr. Teague, her energy and environment secretary and the group’s chairman.

“The whole idea of the group,” he said, “is what are you working on? What are the gaps that you’ve got, and is there somebody else that can fill that gap?”

The most glaring gaps, however, remain mostly unfilled.
Photo
Sandra Ladra and her husband, Gary, near their home in Prague. Ms. Ladra, whose knees were battered by a collapsing fireplace during the 2011 earthquakes, has sued well operators. Credit Nick Oxford for The New York Times

Last month the state promised a clerk, two technical experts and $50,000 to help regulators assess wells, but a $600 million-plus budget deficit makes significant aid unlikely. The Legislature could grant the commission greater authority, but legislators say that is not an option in a state where regulation is deeply unpopular, and the oil and gas industry holds political and economic sway.

Residents File Suit

The industry has worked on several fronts to contain concern about the quakes.

In October 2013, almost two years after the Prague quakes, Dr. Holland, the state seismologist, issued a news release warning that the earthquake risk in Oklahoma City, about 50 miles west of Prague, had increased. Wastewater disposal wells, he added, may be “a contributing factor.” Two weeks later, he was summoned to the office of the University of Oklahoma’s president, David L. Boren, to meet Harold G. Hamm, the chairman of Continental Resources, one of the state’s biggest oil and gas companies. Mr. Boren sits on Continental’s board, for which he has been paid more than $1.6 million in stock awards and directors’ fees since 2009, according to proxy statements.

Continental officials did not respond to a request for comment. Last month, after the newsletter EnergyWire reported the meeting, Mr. Boren called the session “purely informational.”

Dr. Holland said that Mr. Boren assured him his academic freedom as a scientist was unchallenged. Then, Dr. Holland said, Mr. Hamm told him that public discussions of disposal wells “are unnerving — they can dramatically affect the industry.”

Continental is seeking to shape that public discussion, arguing in newspapers, on television and to regulators that the earthquake epidemic is not man-made, but part of an unusually active period for quakes worldwide.

Still, in public meetings and in courtrooms, some residents have begun to demand an accounting. In August, Sandra Ladra, a Prague resident injured by a collapsing fireplace during the 2011 earthquakes, sued the Wilzetta well’s operator, New Dominion, and the Spess Oil Company, which operates the two smaller wells nearby.

Then, in February, came a class-action lawsuit against the two companies by Ms. Cooper, whose house in Prague was heavily damaged. Her suit seeks compensation for quake damage not only to her home, but to any homes in nine counties surrounding Prague.

That case has yet to be heard. But Ms. Ladra’s suit, now before the State Supreme Court, previews the industry response: The wells operate legally, and regulators should hear complaints against them. Letting juries decide their culpability in earthquakes invites financial disaster.

“I don’t want to belittle the public’s concern about earthquake swarms. I live here, too,” Robert G. Gum, a lawyer for New Dominion, said at an October hearing. “But it’s no more important to the people sitting in this courtroom and the people in this state than the state’s economy. It’s no more important in recognizing how important the oil and gas industry is to that economy.”

If juries hold the companies liable for Prague’s earthquakes, he added, “I doubt if this is the last lawsuit that will get filed. These wells will become economic and legal liability pariahs. They will be shut down.”

To Ms. Cooper, that message is clear. “People need to just take their losses for the greater good of the oil and gas companies — you know, do your part,” she said.

She does not buy it.

“If the truth destroys something,” she said, “then it needs to be destroyed.”
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« Reply #582 on: April 11, 2015, 11:46:22 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/11/us/new-sea-drilling-rule-planned-5-years-after-bp-oil-spill.html?emc=edit_th_20150411&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193
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« Reply #583 on: May 17, 2015, 10:59:55 AM »

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/21/1279443/-Exxon-CEO-Joins-Lawsuit-to-Stop-Fracking-Near-His-Home?detail=facebook
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