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PostPosted: September 30th, 2010, 8:46 am 
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I don't know if you lend credence to the guy from Toronto who wrote the book, Why your world is about to get a lot smaller...

Jeff Rubin predicted that oil price would rise above $100 in 2010 and so far it hasn't... so far his forecasts of an imminent peak oil crisis haven't materialized because innovation in technology has made more oil available, together with an economic recession.

There may be peak oil coming at some point to the world's markets, but I don't think that this will prevent industry and consumer demand from exploiting other reserves and other forms of energy. If exploitation of the tar sands is finally seen to be too damaging, natural gas can be used instead and there is plenty of that. There is still plenty of coal, and liquid fuels can be made from that. There is plenty of uranium and possibly thorium to fuel electrical generation from nukes. And all the renewables in their various forms may in time be cost-effective enough to provide more energy to replace oil's.


If the fuel is going to be burned anyway it would be better AGW-wise to burn it in a low-emission motor than a high-emission one.

With the innovation going on in the oil and gas industry, there may still be abundant oil left in the ground as the news report below suggests. And if there is, it makes sense to burn it in efficient machines generating fewer pollutants. Much of the new Canadian oil will probably be burned in America (resulting from the American need for energy security and to reduce dependence on Middle East oil), so maybe it's being used better there than overseas where pollutant regs aren't rigorous.

(And yes, Idylwyld, the new oil results from fracking... in the report, water and sand are being used to prop open cracks in rocks,allowing access to the oil.)

Canada’s new energy play: The old oil fields

Nathan VanderKlippe

Calgary— From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Sep. 28, 2010 7:14PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2010 9:42AM EDT

The rapid deployment of new technology in Canada’s old oil fields has the energy industry poised to produce as many as 15 billion barrels it never expected to extract.

Only a fifth of Western Canada’s conventional crude – that is, everything that’s not oil sands – has been pulled from the ground, leaving behind a vast resource of 77 billion barrels that had been largely written off as impossible to get, according to new research released Tuesday by CIBC World Markets Inc.

But a spate of technological changes sweeping Alberta and Saskatchewan could allow energy companies to produce an additional five billion to 15 billion barrels – a significant jump in the world’s potential oil reserves. The number could be even higher, given that new technology is opening up areas never before produced. (In comparison, the United States has about 21 billion barrels of proved oil reserves.)

This has created a bonanza for junior and medium-sized oil companies that have in recent years taken over many of those old fields from larger players. They now find themselves sitting on one of Canada’s richest energy plays, where the cost to produce a barrel of oil can be as little as half that in the oil sands, creating the potential for substantial profits.

Where oil sands developments typically require crude prices of between $60 and $80 (U.S.) per barrel to turn a profit, the new fracturing technology allows companies to be profitable at $30 to $50, said Jeremy Kaliel, one of the lead authors of the CIBC report.

“It’s a total rebirth for the basin,” said Bill Andrew, chief executive officer of Calgary-based Penn West Energy Trust.

The change has been so profound that Penn West has sped up its conversion to a corporation by two years as it shifts into an unexpected growth mode. Several years ago, it had 500 drilling targets. Today, it has 5,000, as industry discovers an increasing number of plays it can tap by drilling horizontal wells deep into rock formations, then pumping in high-pressure sand and water to fracture the rock. That new technique allows previously inaccessible oil to flow to the surface.

The technology has been especially beneficial to Canada’s industry, which has long struggled with a substantial amount of “tight rock,” which doesn’t easily yield its crude. Before the recent advent of horizontal fracturing helped solve the tight-rock problem, production difficulties kept this country from recovering a substantial amount of crude. In the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, only 21 per cent of a 98 billion barrel resource has been brought to surface. In the United States, recovery rates from conventional oil wells are typically about 30 per cent.

“We’re missing all that oil because it hasn’t been economic to go and drill the wells,” Mr. Andrew said. “Now we can do that.”

Or, as Mr. Kaliel and Jeff Fetterly, the lead authors of the CIBC report, point out, “bad rock is now good.”

“This is something that’s taking off in Canada first,” Mr. Kaliel said in an interview. “They’re pursuing it in the U.S., but they don’t have our ironic advantage of having a lot of bad rock.”

The change promises to reverse a substantial production decline in Canada, where conventional crude output peaked in 1973, and has fallen 46 per cent since then. It’s down by a third in the past 12 years.

The new technology “is pretty significant in that it opens up those fields again to being developed,” said Scott Saxberg, chief executive officer of Crescent Point Energy Corp. of Calgary. “It’s going to attract a lot more capital.”

The technological leap could also create new industry giants. It has happened before: Both Husky Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. grew on the disposition of heavy-oil assets by larger companies. Similarly, the shale gas revolution in the U.S. has catapulted companies such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. and XTO Energy Inc. (the latter recently acquired by Exxon Mobil Corp. for $31-billion U.S.) – from small players into major corporations.

A single oil play helps illustrate why. The Pembina field, first discovered in 1953, contained roughly 10 billion barrels. Only about 1.5 billion have been produced. Until a few years ago, industry estimated it could access only 500 million barrels more.

Now, companies believe they can extract at least another 1.5 billion barrels from the Pembina play on land they already own. Equally promising are formations of oil-bearing rocks that surround Pembina but have long been considered uneconomic to produce. Those contain up to six billion barrels – and it’s now believed they can yield a further one billion barrels.

“It’s a new game out there,” Mr. Kaliel said. “It is really profound what this has done to the basin.” ... cmpid=rss1


PostPosted: September 30th, 2010, 9:04 am 
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idylwyld wrote:

If you're argument is that conservation, efficiency, renewable technologies will lead to cheaper energy costs for all in the long run ... and so we shouldn't do it. Well, I'm not sure what end of your mouth you are arguing from.
I don't know if by "you" you mean me personally or if you are referring to the generic you. But, in any case, the point I raised about efficiency leading to waste is what Reuben spends a few pages on. Ie. when the AC unit is 18% more efficient than an older model we tend to run it 36% more often, or to buy 2 of them.

His point (that I agree with ) is that yes, let's increase efficiency but be careful not to paradoxically allow efficiency to increase our consumption through bigger vehicles, larger homes etc. etc.

(along the same lines I heard on the radio of an interesting study with low-fat food. When the label says, "25% less fat" people consumed 3-4 times the amount.)

I think people want other people to conserve energy so that there will be moreleft for them. :lol:

PostPosted: September 30th, 2010, 10:32 am 
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Location: Boise, ID
Krusty wrote:
idylwyld, it's just hard to not be cynical.

Yep, I'm skeptical too ... but it's big conventional energy projects that worry me most and get me feeling blue. Fast and loose environmental reports, almost no true public consulting, surrounding communities (predominantly First Nations communities) getting bread crumbs in jobs, training and revenue sharing, and a great number of negative environmental impacts that are left behind for future generations (mining tailings, mercury from dams, transmission lines and roads, air pollution, even worse). Add to this cheap energy that is largely wasted by inefficient appliances, energy intensive urban lifestyles, wasteful consumption, the (seemingly deliberate) absence of market pressures that encourage conservation, all the rest (out of site and out of mind), well … it doesn't seem particularly responsible, sustainable, or competitive (when it stands in the way of development of alternatives).

Everytime this thread comes up … I post an article on small towns and rural redevelopment around renewable energy, community groups and municipalities taking control of their energy use, investing in clean energy, everyday people reaping the rewards in low taxes, jobs, affordable energy and a clean environment. I've posted stories about this from Missouri, Vermont, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Illinois, California, Texas, and I'm sure elsewhere. And today's selection: a success story from Italy.

True enough … Italy only gets about 7% of it's energy from renewable sources … I'm sure skypuppy will tell us that not a single coal plant has been taken off line as a result of renewables. But more than 800 small towns now make more energy than they consume and are enjoying the benefits of a revenue stream that local people have been involved in creating and welcome:

Renewable energy has been such a boon for Tocco that it makes money from electricity production and has no local taxes or fees for services like garbage removal.

A quintessential Italian town of 2,700 people in Italy’s poor mountainous center, with its well-maintained church and ruined castle, Tocco is in most ways stuck in yesteryear. Old men talking politics fill gritty bars, and old women wander through the market. The olive harvest is the most important event on the calendar.

Yet, from an energy perspective, Tocco is very much tomorrow. In addition to the town’s wind turbines, solar panels generate electricity at its ancient cemetery and sports complex, as well as at a growing number of private residences.

“Normally when you think about energy you think about big plants, but here what’s interesting is that local municipalities have been very active,” said Edoardo Zanchini, in charge of Legambiente’s energy division. “That this can happen in a place like Italy is really impressive.”

Italy is an unlikely backdrop for a renewable revolution. It has been repeatedly criticized by the European Union for failing to follow the bloc’s environmental directives. It is not on track to meet either its European Union-mandated emissions-reduction target or its commitment to get 17 percent of its total power from renewable sources by 2020, experts say.

Currently, only 7 percent of Italy’s power comes from renewable sources.

But the growth of small renewable projects in towns like Tocco — not only in Italy, but also in other countries — highlights the way that shifting energy economics are often more important than national planning in promoting alternative energy.

Tocco was motivated to become an early adapter because Italy already had among the highest electricity rates in Europe, and nearly three times the average in the United States, and it could not cope with the wild fluctuations in fossil fuel prices and supply that prevailed during the past decade.

At the same time, the costs of renewable energy have been falling rapidly. And as in much of Europe, the lure of alternative power here was sweetened by feed-in tariffs — government guarantees to buy renewable electricity at an attractive set price from any company, city or household that produces it.

In the United States, where electricity is cheap and government policy has favored setting minimum standards for the percentage of energy produced from renewable sources rather than direct economic incentives like Europe’s feed-in tariffs, stimulating alternative energy has been only mildly successful. But in countries where energy from fossil fuels is naturally expensive — or rendered so because of a carbon tax — and there is money to be made, renewable energy quickly starts to flow, even in unlikely places like Tocco.

With its four wind turbines (two completed in 2007 and two last year), Tocco is now essentially energy independent from a financial standpoint, generating 30 percent more electricity than it uses. Production of green electricity earned the town 170,000 euros, or more than $200,000, last year. The town is renovating the school for earthquake protection and has tripled the budget for street cleaners …

An installation of solar panels now lights walkways, powers the office and generates an income of 1,500 euros a year, or $2,000, to pay for maintenance. The project has also created new types of work for local electricians ...

“We’ve gotten lots of kudos from outside, but people here care more that we now have money to fill potholes.”

Read more here: ... ossil.html

PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 11:13 am 
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Contemplating the IPCC, the hockey stick illusion, climategate, the "we have to get rid of the Medieval Warming Period" quote etc. etc. and then reading the articles linked to above that discusses the Chinese initiatives juxtaposed against American immobilism I can't help reflect on what's going on at home here in Quebec regarding the Uttica shale gas debate and our education crisis.

The ability to discuss the issues without sinking into a polarized shouting match of Greenies versus dirty profiteers requires an educated public, one that is capable of looking objectively at both sides of an issue, taking a long-term view and developing the expertise to adapt to changing conditions.

Over-reacting to potentially uncertain data (which may be interpreted with bias) might unnecessarily destabilize world economies. OTOH, sitting around doing nothing at all will lead where?

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