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Will GTL Nail the Coffin Lid on Cheap NG?

Roger Arnold, Energy Pulse
President Bush has said that to achieve energy independence for the United
States, we need to quickly build new receiving terminals for liquefied natural
gas (LNG). The new terminals will enable us to import more natural gas to
compensate for our own flagging production. Leaving aside the president’s, er,
interesting conception of energy independence, what actually are the prospects
for importing enough gas to make up for declining production in North America?
Is it possible that supply constraints will promptly reduce the new and very
costly LNG receiving terminals to white elephants?

The problem is that cryogenic liquefaction of natural gas for export as LNG is
not the only way to make use of so-called “stranded” natural gas. Nor is it
always the best way, from a producer’s point of view.

An alternative is to process natural gas to first make what’s known as
“synthesis gas”—a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide—and then use
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and downstream processing to produce premium
sulfur-free diesel and jet fuels. If the price of LNG is low relative to
diesel, it is more profitable for producers to employ this gas-to-liquids
technology (GTL) to make diesel and jet fuel, rather than exporting the gas in
the form of LNG.
(1 September 2005)

Spot Shortages of Gas Reported Around Country

Vikas Bajaj, New York Times
Less than a week after Hurricane Katrina severely disrupted energy supplies,
spot gasoline shortages were reported yesterday at service stations in New York
City and across the country heading into the three-day Labor Day weekend.

If consumers do not heed warnings to refrain from panicked buying, industry
officials and analysts said, the situation could worsen.
(3 September 2005)

Damage to Gulf oil rigs mounts

Sydney Morning Herald
Hurricane Katrina has damaged or displaced an estimated 58 Gulf of Mexico oil
platforms and drilling rigs, the American Petroleum Institute has announced.
Thirty of the rigs have been reported lost.

No company breakdown was available, said Tim Sampson, an API spokesman.

Mr Sampson said even with these reports, it was still too early to gauge damage
in the Gulf. “It could still be the end of next week before we get pipeline

As estimates of Hurricane Katrina’s carnage grow, the storm’s potential damage
to the US economy also is mounting amid surging petrol prices and disruptions
to shipments of key agricultural products.
(3 September 2005)

North Slope can’t make up oil shortfall

Sam Bishop, Fairbanks News-Miner
WASHINGTON–Prudhoe Bay can’t offer any relief from petroleum shortages caused by hurricane damage on the Gulf Coast, a spokesman for the oil field operator said Wednesday.

“We’re producing as much oil as we possibly can,” said Daren Beaudo, with BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. in Anchorage.

Prudhoe is providing an average of about 450,000 to 475,000 barrels a day, Beaudo said.

Production at other North Slope fields just about match that amount, so an average of 910,000 barrels a day had entered the trans-Alaska oil pipeline as of July this year, according to Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.

The North Slope accounts for about 17 percent of domestic production, which the federal Energy Information Administration listed at 5.4 million barrels per day at the end of August.

Twenty-nine percent of domestic oil, or 1.56 million barrels a day, has been coming from the Gulf of Mexico. However, the federal Minerals Management Service reported Tuesday that 95 percent of the Gulf’s crude production had stopped.
(1 September 2005)

New Catalyst Produces Hydrogen from Water

Sarah Graham, Scientific American
The promise of a hydrogen economy, which would lessen dependence on nonrenewable energy sources such as fossil fuels, hinges on the ability to produce and store large amounts of the clean-burning element. New results from experiments on a novel catalyst suggest that it can be used to coax hydrogen from water without the need for severe reaction conditions.
(31 August 2005)

Study reveals huge U.S. oil-shale field

Jennifer Talhelm, The Associated Press via Seattle Times
WASHINGTON — The United States has an oil reserve at least three times that of Saudi Arabia locked in oil-shale deposits beneath federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, according to a study released yesterday.

But the researchers at the RAND think tank caution the federal government to go carefully, balancing the environmental and economic impacts with development pressure to prevent an oil-shale bust later
(1 September 2005)