Posted by Heading Out on September 20, 2012 - 4:45am
Tags: carbon sequestration, chemical plants, china, coal production, mongolia, peabody, rail transportation [list all tags]
In this run-up to the election, the American energy future seems to have faded into the quiet background. Gone are the concerns of past years, as both parties seem to have bought into the idea that the nation is well on track toward a much reduced need to import oil. Wood Mackenzie is forecasting that tight oil production will rise from 1.5 mbd this year to 4.1 mbd in 2020, with the Bakken producing 1.3 mbd, the Eagle Ford 1.3 mbd, the Permian plays (Bone Spring, Avalon, Wolfcamp and Cline) will produce 440 kbd, and the Niobrara should be good for 90 kbd. With the decline in production from the impact of Isaac in the Gulf not yet over, it is not yet clear whether the plateau in US production that was starting to form will continue, or whether the gains in production that these projections require will continue.
But there are some signs that these projections are, shall we say, a little ambitious. Well costs are now running in the $9 - $11.2 million range and, to sustain production, in these formations where wells have a high annual decline rate, increasing numbers must be drilled each year to offset that decline, and the poorer quality of newer wells. But declining rig counts and other concerns are for the future, and if no one coughs too loudly we can pretend that everything remains fine until we get past November.
China does not have that luxury, since the country, having set its people on an upwardly mobile quality of life path, must continue to provide the power that such a ladder requires. As I noted last time, the potential gains from the increased use of natural gas have been noted. Actions have already been taken to make sure that future supplies will meet anticipated needs and work has begun to tap the gas shales of the country.
But despite those efforts, the underlying strength of the Chinese power industry comes from coal.
In 2007 Chinese coal production contained more energy than total Middle Eastern oil production. The rapid growth of coal demand after 2001 created supply strains and bottlenecks that raise questions about sustainability.
In 2010, China produced almost half of the world’s coal tonnage.
China produced some 4.52 billion tonnes in 2011 and some 45% of that was shipped from the mine to the customer by rail. As demand continues to grow those volumes will also increase.
The 4th Annual Biophysical Economics Conference will be held October 26-28 at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont. The conference will include 2 days of seminars, workshops, and break-out discussions, followed by a Sunday field trip. Registration is available at this site.
On occasion, the British Government goes through an internal shake-up that leads to various pundits trying to explain to us lesser mortals what it all means. Thus, with changes in the Ministers who work in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, there is a suggestion that the UK is pulling back from their commitment to wind energy, and instead beginning to look more seriously at shale gas supplies.
The UK is not unique. The success of the American development of long horizontal well drilling, with follow-on multiple fracture of the shale beds to release gas at economic volumes into the well, has caught the world’s attention, and with it a desire to emulate that success. Though it should be said that the American success comes in part with the volume of the release in supply and the consequent fall induced in the price of natural gas. That, in turn, is providing a less well-recognized boost to the US economy, through lower energy costs.
This has not been lost on the Chinese, who are fully aware of their own need to keep finding resources at as cheap a price as possible to keep their own economy growing. It is, in relative terms, however, still an industry in its infancy. Earlier this year China agreed to buy 65 billon cu m of more conventionally produced natural gas from Turkmenistan – about twice the initial buy - roughly the equivalent of 6.3 billion cu ft/day (bcf/d). In addition, from April 1, China has started to import natural gas from Uzbekistan. That sale has been projected to be at around 10 bcm/year (1 bcf/day) and there has been a move in Uzbekistan to increase coal-fired power generation in the country in order to free up more gas to meet export demands as the sales to China ramp up to perhaps double this level in the next few years.
Further China still has the option of buying more natural gas from Russia, which has the potential to supply an additional 65 bcm/year into China. (6.3 bcf/d)
Posted by Gail the Actuary on September 7, 2012 - 6:23pm
Tags: coal, deforestation, economy, electricity, energy supply, erosion, gdp, hunter-gatherer, hydroelectric, oil, peat, petroleum, population, soil [list all tags]
The tie between energy supply, population, and the economy goes back to the hunter-gatherer period. Hunter-gatherers managed to multiply their population at least 4-fold, and perhaps by as much as 25-fold, by using energy techniques which allowed them to expand their territory from central Africa to virtually the whole world, including the Americas and Australia.
The agricultural revolution starting about 7,000 or 8,000 BCE was the next big change, multiplying population more than 50-fold. The big breakthrough here was the domestication of grains, which allowed food to be stored for winter, and transported more easily.
The next major breakthrough was the industrial revolution using coal. Even before this, there were major energy advances, particularly using peat in Netherlands and early use of coal in England. These advances allowed the world’s population to grow more than four-fold between the year 1 CE and 1820 CE. Between 1820 and the present, population has grown approximately seven-fold.
When we look at the situation on a year-by-year basis (Table 1), we see that on a yearly average basis, growth has been by far the greatest since 1820, which is the time since the widespread use of fossil fuels. We also see that economic growth seems to proceed only slightly faster than population growth up until 1820. After 1820, there is a much wider “gap” between energy growth and GDP growth, suggesting that the widespread use of fossil fuels has allowed a rising standard of living.
The rise in population growth and GDP growth is significantly higher in the period since World War II than it was in the period prior to that time. This is the period during which growth in which oil consumption had a significant impact on the economy. Oil greatly improved transportation and also enabled much greater agricultural output. An indirect result was more world trade, which enabled production of goods needing inputs around the world, such as computers.
When a person looks back over history, the impression one gets is that the economy is a system that transforms resources, especially energy, into food and other goods that people need. As these goods become available, population grows. The more energy is consumed, the more the economy grows, and the faster world population grows. When little energy is added, economic growth proceeds slowly, and population growth is low.
Economists seem to be of the view that GDP growth gives rise to growth in energy products, and not the other way around. This is a rather strange view, in light of the long tie between energy and the economy, and in light of the apparent causal relationship. With a sufficiently narrow, short-term view, perhaps the view of economists can be supported, but over the longer run it is hard to see how this view can be maintained.
Posted by Heading Out on September 4, 2012 - 4:36am
Tags: changqing, china, cnooc, cnpc, daqing, domestic production, jilin, petrochina, shengli, sinopec, tarm [list all tags]
If one looks at a map of China, it seems at first to be a land heavily endowed with gas and oil fields. However, with the continued rise in demand for liquid fuel, exploration and development are being aggressively pursued inside the nation, as well as offshore and abroad. Current levels of production, and those planned, still leave an increasing volume that must be imported each year to meet the national demand.
And yet, as has been noted earlier, while demand has continued to soar, overall domestic production has not changed all that much. China has three major oil production companies, PetroChina, Sinopec, and the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), where the last of these, discussed in an earlier post, deals – as the name suggests – with offshore deposits, and the other two are concerned with onshore production.
Batteries fail—as certainly as death and taxes. Rechargeable batteries at least offer the possibility of repeating the cycle, so are in this sense more like recurrent taxes than death. But alas, the story cannot repeat indefinitely. One cheerful thought after the other, yes? But wait, there’s more… Add to their inevitable demise an overall lackluster performance in battery storage technology, and we have ourselves the makings of a blog post on the failure of batteries to live up to their promises.
To set the stage, the specific energy of gasoline—measured in kWh per kg, for instance—is about 400 times higher than that of a lead-acid battery, and about 200 times better than the Lithium-ion battery in the Chevrolet Volt. We should not expect batteries to rival the energy density delivered by our beloved fossil fuels—ever.
A recent article in APS News reported on an emerging view that batteries are failing to live up to our dreams in the electric car realm:
Despite their many potential advantages, all-electric vehicles will not replace the standard American family car in the foreseeable future. This was the perhaps reluctant consensus at a recent symposium focused on battery research.
The issue of nuclear electricity is a complex one. In this post, I offer a few insights into the nuclear electric situation based on recent reports and statistical data.
Nuclear Electric Production Is Already Declining
According to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, the highest year of nuclear electric production was 2006.
There are really two trends taking place, however.
1. The countries that adopted nuclear first, that is the United States, Europe, Japan, and Russia, have been experiencing flat to declining nuclear electricity production. The countries with actual declines in generation are Japan and some of the countries in Europe outside of France.
2. The countries that began adopting nuclear later, particularly the developing countries, are continuing to show growth. China and India in particular are adding nuclear production.
The long-term trend depends on how these two opposite trends balance out. There may also be new facilities built, and some “uprates” of old facilities, among existing large users of nuclear. Russia, in particular, has been mentioned as being interested in adding more nuclear.
The recent post on Chinese claims to territory in the China Sea mentioned the rush to plant flags on different islands in the South China Sea portion as a sign of the ongoing nature of the disputes that continue to develop in the region. That status has continued with protests this last weekend in China over Japanese flag-waving over an island in the East China Sea. The islands are called Diaoyu or Senkaku, depending on whether the report is Chinese or Japanese.
Figure 1. Location of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea (Google Earth). The yellow patch shows the rough location of the Shirakaba/Chunxiao gas field. The Japanese claim runs through the center of the field, China says the boundary is to the East of the field (half-way between the disputed islands and Okinawa).
This is a guest post by Sadad al-Huseini, now a petroleum consultant and formerly executive vice president of Saudi Aramco for exploration and production, and is a response to the recent article in PIW (Petroleum Intelligence Weekly) by Leonardo Maugeri on his new study Oil: the Next Revolution, challenging his optimism about future oil supplies (PIW Jul.2’12). This article originally appeared in the July 23, 2012 edition of PIW.
Leonardo Maugeri's recent paper Oil: The Next Revolution on the presumed future abundance of oil supplies rejects the pessimistic outlook of limited increases in oil capacity over the next decade. It suggests global oil capacity will exceed 110 million barrels per day by the end of the decade, putting an immediate end to concerns regarding constrained long-term oil supplies. This conclusion is based on an assessment of new projects with a reported capacity of 49 million b/d before a downward adjustment to 29 million b/d to allow for completion risks and reserves depletion. Maugeri holds two PhDs, one in Political Science and one in Economics, and has extensive executive experience with ENI in strategies and developments and in petrochemicals.
In putting forth this optimistic thesis, Maugeri apparently sets aside a variety of technical realities, including the difference between natural gas liquids (NGLs) and conventional oil, reserves depletion versus capacity declines, and proven reserves as opposed to speculative resources.