Friday, January 27, 2006

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and oil reserves (

Yikes! Things Just Got Worse ... what just got worse? It has to do with the claimed oil reserves in Kuwait. The article discusses a report published by Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW) titled Oil Reserves Accounting: The Case Of Kuwait. Unfortunately the subscription price puts me off so I can't read the report myself.

Supposedly the report discusses details of Kuwait's claimed oil reserves. Kuwait's reported oil reserves are 99 billion barrels. Kuwait has been an oil exporter since 1946, and has a massive oil field. However it's clear the reserves have been overstated.

The PIW report is based upon data circulating within the top echelons of the Kuwait Oil Co. (KOC). KOC is the upstream arm of state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp. KOC has primary responsibility for conducting exploration, drilling and production from Kuwait's oil fields. The PIW report claims that Kuwait's remaining proven and nonproven oil reserves total about 48 billion barrels, or 51 billion fewer barrels than previously advertised.

That 51 billion fewer barrels of reserves represent 5% of stated world reserves. Especially troubling is I've read several articles claiming that many oil producing countries have been overstating their reserves as well. What isn't overstated is the world consumption, especially the growing consumption levels in India and China resulting from their economic expansion.

How did this come about? Well, it's not a simple matter of bravado (e.g. the stereotypical men boasting about the size of X or Y or oil fields). In this case it is about distinguishing between "proven," "probable" and "possible" reserves.

Kuwait (and others?) have stated their reserves as the sum of all three. Well, I don't know about you, but "possible" reserves doesn't sound very promising. Especially when you consider most oil wells turn up dry, even on a good day.

As I said, the oil consumption rate is known (and growing). What isn't so clear are the actual reserves. One thing that's clear is the Hubbert model which predicts the peak oil phenomenon. It's not that an oil field produces fine until one day it just fizzles to a stop. Instead it produces fine until the peak occurs, after which it's a constant struggle to get oil out.

This means the world oil situation will appear fine, but with more and more oil fields tilting to the "struggle" phase as each individual oil field peaks.

That, in a nutshell, is the peak oil phenomenon. The last several years of oil use will be characterised by a struggle to retrieve oil, and therefore the actual oil "production" will inexorably decline.

In the face of America stupidly continuing the glut of oil use and gas guzzling way of life, along with India and China rapidly expanding their oil use, this will not be pretty to watch.

I should warn you the author of the article I've linked to -- well -- he works for a financial investment company. They purport to having some investment ideas related to the scenario they describe. While I agree with the scenario, there may be some tilting of the rhetoric on their part.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Green Car Congress: Joint Venture for Animalwaste Sludge to Biodiesel

Joint Venture for Animalwaste Sludge to Biodiesel: Concerns a project to take animal "waste" and turn it into fuel.

Here's the context: "The USDA requires facilities that process the 100 million pigs, 35 million cattle, 1.6 billion turkeys, and 8 billion chickens slaughtered each year to use large volumes of clean water to continuously rinse the meats as they are cut and packaged." The formerly clean water is separated from the "protein" and other animal material, that leaves a "concentrated sludge, which is called Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) sludge. The poultry industry alone generates in excess of 2.5 billion pounds—more than 63,000 tanker loads—per year of DAF sludge."

The technosanity question would be what to do with that sludge? It's interesting to wonder what was formerly done with it. Was it just dumped into the wastewater system? Was it turned into any other product such as fertilizer or animal food?

The article discusses a proposed use for this sludge, being developed by Veridium Corporation and Mean Green BioFuels.


Biodiesel clears Colorado Senate committee

Biodiesel clears Senate committee: In the Colorado senate a bill to require the state to buy biodiesel for its vehicle fleet has passed 5-1 in a committee vote. "The bill by Sen. Lewis Entz, R-Hooper, and Rep. Ray Rose-R-Montrose, would mandate the use of a 20-percent blend of biodiesel if the price of the alternative fuel is no more than 10 cents extra."


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

James Lovelock: The Earth is about to catch a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years

James Lovelock is an independant scientist who has been nurturing the Gaia model of understanding the earth. He's published a string of books claiming the planet we call Earth is a living being he names Gaia. e.g. Gaia : A New Look at Life on Earth He began this work as a space scientist advising NASA on how would they determine whether there was "life" on other planets, such as Mars. That is, given the sparse set of instruments we can send to Mars, which ones should be sent to make the measurements required to determine whether "life" exists there. The question sent him to pondering life on this planet, leading him to recognize the planet as a whole being a living organism.

I say this to help give context to an article he has written fortelling a disastrous change in Gaia. The Earth is about to catch a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years He's saying that the global warming phenemona is Gaia developing a "fever", that the historical record of this planet shows several fevers which occurred, and that in the past those fevers took 100,000 years to heal.

When earth has a "fever" it undergoes a climate change with an expansion of desert lands, the heat around the equator becoming unbearable for most life (including humans) and that as a result he expects billions of humans to die.

This may very well be what will occur. We are beginning to see alarming signs such as the melting of the permafrost in the arctic.

However in the recent few days I've heard a couple spiritual teachers talking about the apocalypse period described in the Book of Revelations. That book is a set of visions an early prophet received about the future of humanity. It's a rather disturbing part of the Bible since it describes a horrible war, disease, famine, environmental problems, and more. But the book also ends with a great deal of hope, with a "New Heaven and New Earth". The book is also hard to interpret and understand.

These two teachers, Ron Roth and Gregg Braden, have both studied the ancient writings of a wide range of traditions. They both said a similar thing about the Revelations. First, that many of the predictions in it have already come to pass. e.g. The Ukranian name for Chernobyl means "Wormwood" which, in Revelations, was a star that burned on the earth, which is essentially what happened at Chernobyl.

They both teach about the power of prayer, in an authentic form of prayer practiced by ancient mystics. Both, especially Gregg Braden, talk about the cycles of history recorded in the ancient texts and how the ancient teachings talk about a cataclysmic time which will happen about now. It's not just the book of Revelations, but other ancient traditions predicted apocalypse. But they all suggested prayer as the way humanity could avoid the fate.

It's not too late.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Green Car Congress: Hydrogenics to Supply Hydrogen Refuelling Station for Wind Hydrogen Project

A problem with wind energy is its variability. Obviously, some days the wind blows, sometimes a lot, and other days it's still. But what if the wind is still on a day you really need it? Wind energy offers a great environmental story, because nothing could be cleaner (so long as you site/design the turbines to avoid birds) ... but if you can't use the wind power on days you need it, then you need a different power source. Or, perhaps you can capture the energy derived from the wind, store that energy somehow, and use the energy later drawing it from wherever it was stored.

Energy is energy. Physics tells us several ways to store energy, such as winding up a spring, running a flywheel, pumping water uphill, storing heat, etc.

In Hydrogenics to Supply Hydrogen Refuelling Station for Wind Hydrogen Project they talk of hydrogen. The electricity coming out of a wind turbine can be used to electrolyze hydrogen. You store the hydrogen, and later do something to generate electricity again using the hydrogen. For example you could run it through a fuel cell and generate electricity, or you could simply burn it and capture the heat to turn a turbine.

The article talks about North Dakota as "the Saudi Arabia of wind". An interesting analogy, except that Saudi Arabia is sitting on a dwindling resource, while the wind is endless.

Hydrogenics is a company specializing in hydrogen based systems for onsite hydrogen generation, power systems, and test systems.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Green Car Congress: BLM Meetings on Oil Shale and Tar Sands Development Surface the Water Issue

The Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) is not the only bit of public land which the oil companies are eyeing. There is the Oil Shale lands of Wyoming and Utah which are back up for consideration. The high oil price means that places like the oil shale, where extracting the oil is difficult, are again "economically" sensible.

In BLM Meetings on Oil Shale and Tar Sands Development Surface the Water Issue, the Green Car Congress folk talk about one ecological cost. Water. Water is a scarce resource in the West, and extracting oil from the oil shale will use tremendous amounts of water. The West is currently in the worst drought in over 500 years, and they (the oil companies) want to drastically increase water usage?


Resource Insights: Demand Destruction: Who Gets Destroyed?

Kurt Cobb has an interesting thing to discuss about economics and the oil peak phenomenon. Economists like to claim The Market regulates resource availability much better than government can. That as oil availability declines, the price will go up, the higher price will discourage use, and voila the problem will be solved, and we'll start using other fuels to do our lives. As Kurt Cobb points out, that's a bunch of bullcrap.

Except he says it a lot more nicely than I am able to do.

I think, and Kurt Cobb agrees, that assuming market forces will solve the problem for us is just completely disengaged from reality. It's just nonsense, in other words.

It takes quite a long while for energy technologies to be developed. Just witness how long photovoltaic solar panels have been in development, and they still aren't well enough developed to where their cost is competitive with fossil fuels. Kurt Cobb points to a study of oil depletion curves in countries around the world, which shows that once a country's oil supply peaks there is a swift decline in production. This tells us that when the world oil peak occurs that "we" won't have enough time to for the market forces to come up with a solution. "We" won't have the many years that would be required to develop replacement technology, because the Mad Max scenario will happen too quickly.

This says that "we" should be proactive and develop the technology now, rather than wait for the crisis to be upon us.

But, I think this is just normal the way American policy is set. For decades American policy has always been driven by crisis, that change doesn't occur until crisis forces the policy makers out of complacency.

It doesn't have to be that way. One could take a mode of thinking similar to the tagline at the top of this page. If we considered the ramifications of our decisions for the next seven generations, would we let the obvious oil peak scenario looming before us to kill the society we have inherited from our ancestors?


sustainablog: Growing Algae for Clean, Green Energy

I've made a few postings about development of Algae that can be grown and harvested for their oil content. GreenFuel Technologies is one company developing this kind of technology. In their case they want to colocate their algae tanks with regular power plants, feeding the algae with the CO2 exhaust from the power plants. The algae does an amazing job of soaking up the CO2 from the exhaust, leaving it with 40 percent less CO2 and 86 percent less nitrous oxide.

But, I've never seen a picture of it, and we know a picture is worth a thousand words. Look here: Growing Algae for Clean, Green Energy

Algae - like a breath mint for smokestacks (By Mark Clayton | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor)


Biodiesel called Florida's future fuel

Here's an article geared to Floridians explaining biodiesel. Biodiesel called Florida's future fuel What caught my eye about the article was: "There's no reason we can't be the top state in biofuel production," he said. "One of the things we do well is grow plants." But he admits making such fuels a significant portion of U.S. energy use is probably decades away. In the meantime, he said, biodiesel and other alternatives can incrementally help wean the country off foreign oil.

That was a University researcher talking. What's shocking is thinking it's "probably decades away" and I wonder why. Malaysia is going into biodiesel production whole-hog, so if Malaysia can do it then why can't we?

And it's not just Florida I'm talking about, it's the whole U.S.

The article discusses a company, called Freedom Fuels, which is planning to set up distribution in Florida. They don't link to the company, but it may be this one or this one or this one. Actually that final one is probably the ones referred in the article. I also found them to be associated with Brevard Biodiesel, a Biodiesel group in Brevard County Florida.


Sunday, January 8, 2006


Why can't we make a bold project like this in the U.S.??? Why instead do we have to beat up smaller countries for their oil??? NO FRENCH TRAINS WILL USE FOSSIL FUELS BY 2026, SAYS PRESIDENT CHIRAC French President Chirac has declared that France will move towards electric trains, and biodiesel powered trains. That they'll improve their nuclear plants going to a third and fourth generation design. That they'll accelerate development of solar energy, biomass fuels, etc. And that the result will be zero usage of fossil fuels to run the train system.

Whew! Go, France, Go!


Green Car Congress: VW, Shell and Iogen to Study Cellulosic Ethanol Production for Germany

VW, Shell and Iogen to Study Cellulosic Ethanol Production for Germany: Covers a plan to make fuel from processing organic matter. This sounds like a process I read of being developed by a Canadian company, who has found this enzyme that can "eat" pretty much anything organic. Apparently ethanol, a form of alchohol, can be made from pretty much any organic matter this way.


Saturday, January 7, 2006

Green Car Congress: Pennsylvanias First Commercial Biodiesel Facility Begins Operations

Pennsylvania’s First Commercial Biodiesel Facility Begins Operations (Green Car Congress, 7 January 2006): Agra Biofuels has opened a biodiesel production plant in Pennsylvania, and plans to open 10 more. If it goes as currently planned, they will have a maximum production capacity of 200 million gallons per year. The source material is soybeans.


Friday, January 6, 2006

The Pueblo Chieftain Online - Pueblo, Colorado U.S.A

Blue Sun biodiesel still studying production options: This is about biodiesel production in the Pueblo Colorado area. Blue Sun is an existing biodiesel producer, and the article covers their considerations around expanding to have a production facility in the San Luis valley. They already buy Canola seed, crush it, use the oil for biodiesel, and sell the rest for livestock feed.


Sioux City Journal: Biodiesel plant to be built in Keokuk

Biodiesel plant to be built in Keokuk: Keokuk Iowa, that is. The plant will crush soybeans to get the oil, and that the total investment to build the plant is $65 million.

Lowell Junkins, executive director of the Lee County Economic Development Group, said construction on the first phase of the project -- a five million gallon biodiesel plant in a temporary location -- is expected to begin Sunday and be in operation by August.

Construction on phase two -- a plant that will purchase, process and crush soybeans to make soybean oil and soybean meal -- is expected to begin in January 2007. Phase three construction, a 30-million gallon biodiesel manufacturing plant, scheduled to start in March 2007, Junkins said.

The fourth phase will include the conversion of the original building in phase one to process animal fats, restaurant grease and other products that will be made into biodiesel to replace petroleum lubricants.


Thursday, January 5, 2006

Solar powered streetlights offering Wi-Fi

Okay, this sounds cool, but scratching under the surface for a moment I don't see it. This research group in Scotland is working on street lighting which is both solar powered and includes a Wi-Fi transmitter. Sunlight powers streetlights, Wi-Fi access (By Steve Ranger, Special to CNET, Published: January 5, 2006, 7:52 AM PST) The research is being conducted by the Abertay Centre for the Environment (ACE), based within the University of Abertay Dundee (UAD).

But ... what's the big deal..?? At least in the U.S. streetlights are already provided with power. And that power can already be used to power other devices hung on the streetlights. For example in the Christmas season when lighting is strung all along the street. More lately surveillance equipment is attached to the same streetlights, powered by the streetlights.

As for providing an Internet infrastructure this way. In 2001 Metricom deployed the Ricochet network using boxes attached to streetlights powered by the power already present in the streetlight.

There's nothing new here. Well, other than the solar panels. It's very nice to see solar panels used for this application. But I wonder what the tradeoff is which would makes this displace the existing way to do streetlights.

In the existing system, streetlights are directly attached to the same power grid that supplies power to buildings. The wires are already there. A possible saving is if the streetlights would not require their own wiring but often streetlights are hung on the very same poles on which the wiring is run. At least this is the way it's done in the U.S.


Monday, January 2, 2006

Green Car Congress: Russia Turns the Natural Gas Screws on Ukraine, Europe Feels Effect

Green Car Congress has a report about a crisis in natural gas supply between Russia, Ukraine and the rest of Europe. Apparently Russia has jacked up Ukraine's prices, and the resulting dispute has interrupted natural gas supply to Ukraine. Russia Turns the Natural Gas Screws on Ukraine, Europe Feels Effect (Green Car Congress, 2 January 2006)

One of the comments on GCC is "Ukraine has to pay market price, so US can't object to capitalism. This is direct result of Ukraine's orange revolution." to which I say... your nuts. It isn't capitalism to jack up prices just because of a change in government. That's manipulation. Russia was on the losing side of the Orange Revolution event, and I suppose now they want to use the cold of winter to create a heating crisis and maybe anger the people of Ukraine enough to topple the government. That is not capitalism at work.

Some interesting factoids in the article -- Russia has the largest Natural Gas reserves in the world, followed by Iran. The three major fields, Urengoy, Yamburg, and Medvezh’ye, are in Siberia and the Russian Gas company, Gazprom, admits these fields are in decline and there will be "steep" declines in output between 2008-2020.

That makes part of this episode looking to the future of the peak for natural gas having been reached.

The "peak oil" effect also applies to other natural resources. The model is that there is a fixed amount of each resource on the planet. And humans have a given ability to tap those resources. Between usage of the resource, the resulting depletion of the resource, and the ease/difficulty of tapping the resource, a peak will be reached in production capacity. For example the U.S. reached its peak of oil production capacity in 1970. The world is projected to reach its peak of oil production capacity, well, any day now, if not already.

Try as you might, after the peak is reached you can't increase production because the resources are heading towards depletion.


Sunday, January 1, 2006

The US and Iran: Is Washington Planning a Military Strike? - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

There's been a continuing confrontation between the U.S., the E.U. and Iran over Iran's nuclear power program. Iran has been building nuclear reactors, some of which weren't initially disclosed to the International Atomic Energy Commission, and whose designs could be used to build weapons grade nuclear material. They've promised up and down, those reactors were purely for "peaceful" purposes, but then why would they choose a nuclear reaction that produces weapons grade material if they had a peaceful purpose? Especially as they hid the existance of the reactors?

Coincidentally Iran's plan helps justify the neocon plan to rearrange the political map of the Middle East. So it shouldn't be surprising the Bush administration has been taking a hardline stance towards Iran. The neocon agenda is to create a war against Iran, and taking a hardline stance is the way to gaurantee a war. It worked in Iraq didn't it?

This has been developing for awhile, and as I've posted before it appears to be following the same pattern as was used to cook up justification to attack Iraq. Pressure has been kept hard on Iran, and the Bush Administration rhetoric has been that "all options are on the table" just as they said with Iraq.

In the case of the attack on Iraq, all the justifications given by the administration have been proven to be false. And it's clear that the administration knew the falsity of most of their statements while they were claiming up and down it was all true. In other words, they were lying. And lots of people around the world, including the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, have said the war in Iraq is illegal etc.

On the other hand the allegations against Iran are largely true. Iran itself has admitted to having this nuclear program. And it is a worry to have nuclear weapon capabilities proliferate beyond the set of countries that currently have that capability. So it's a puzzle where to stand. The Bush Administration has a very poor track record, and are obviously holding an agenda dating back to the mid-90's (or further) to destroy Iran's government.

In any case, right now there are some serious rumors being published in Germany saying the U.S. is clearly planning to launch an attack on Iran.

Here's some pointers to discussion:

The US and Iran: Is Washington Planning a Military Strike? (December 30, 2005, Der SPIEGEL ONLINE)

US planning strike against Iran (Dec. 31, 2005 19:33, By JPOST.COM STAFF)

Rumors Of War (January 01, 2006, Past Peak blog)

Attacking Iran (December 31, 2005, John Robb's weblog)

The source is an article in the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel. I don't have a link to that article (and no doubt it's in German) but the Der Spiegel article is a good substitute:

In a report published on Wednesday, the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel also cited NATO intelligence sources claiming that Washington's western allies had been informed that the United States is currently investigating all possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including military options. Of course, Bush has publicly stated for months that he would not take the possibility of a military strike off the table. What's new here, however, is that Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to prepare its allies for a possible attack rather than merely implying the possibility as it has repeatedly done during the past year.

... According to DDP, during his trip to Turkey, CIA chief Goss reportedly handed over three dossiers to Turkish security officials that purportedly contained evidence that Tehran is cooperating with Islamic terror network al-Qaida. A further dossier is said to contain information about the current status of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. Sources in German security circles told the DDP reporter that Goss had ensured Ankara that the Turkish government would be informed of any possible air strikes against Iran a few hours before they happened. The Turkish government has also been given the "green light" to strike camps of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Iran on the day in question.

... But the string of visits by high-profile US politicians to Turkey and surrounding reports are drawing new attention to the issue. In recent weeks, the number of American and NATO security officials heading to Ankara has increased dramatically. Within a matter of only days, the FBI chief, then the CIA chief and, most recently, NATO General Secretary Jaap De Hoop Scheffer visited the Turkish capital. During her visit to Europe earlier this month, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also traveled to Turkey after a stopover in Berlin.

Leading the chorus of speculation are Turkish newspapers, which have also sought to connect these visits to plans for an attack on Iran. But so far none of the speculation has been based on hard facts. Writing about the meeting between Porter Goss and Tayyip Erdogan, the left-nationalist newspaper Cumhuriyet wrote: "Now It's Iran's Turn." But the paper didn't offer any evidence to corroborate the claims.

So the Der Spiegel article is not claiming outright there's a war being prepared. But it points to evidence something is going on, even if it's being kept secret enough we aren't knowing what it's about. The Jerusalem Post article is, then, overhyping the truth for some reason. Perhaps the people in Israel are more alarmed by Iran, because the President of Iran has made repeated speeches recently calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, claiming the Holocaust was a hoax, etc.

Iran rejects Russia nuclear plan (Jan 1, 2006, BBC): Russia apparently proposed doing nuclear processing on their terroritory, so that Iran wouldn't be doing the processing. I think the worry is about the expansion of the number of countries who have nuclear weapons capability. In the Der Spiegel article it quoted some General saying that the time to act is "now" because if we wait too long Iran will have their nuclear capability and it will be too late. But Iran rejected the Russian plan.

Iran vows 'crushing response' to attack by U.S., Israel (Haaretz): Tough talk between Iran and Israel just proving they don't like each other. The article provides an interesting overview of the tensions.

US planning to strike Iran's nuke facilities: Report (January 01, 2006 19:36 IST, Describes the proposed attack on Iran as just to destroy the nuclear facilities, rather than an all-out war. I suppose they might be hoping for something like Israel's 80's attack on Iraq's nuclear facilities. But in todays Middle East I suspect it would only fan the flames further, seeing the U.S. as an occupying power.

A 2006 U.S. plan to attack Iran detailed (12/31/2005 10:20:00 PM GMT, Details the same story as above, but adds to it a statement by Cheney in Jan 2005. He made a vague statement to MSNBC that Israel might be doing the dirty work (bombing Iran's nuclear facilities) leaving the rest of the international community to clean up the consequences later. Hurm.