Methamphetamine fuels the West’s oil and gas boom

Patrick Farrell, High Country News
Long the drug of choice for rural down-and-out youth, crank becomes commonplace among drill-rig roughnecks
CRAIG, Colorado — Sheriff Buddy Grinstead, a solidly built cop’s cop who benches 300 pounds, is only beginning to wrap his ham-hock-sized arms around the drug problem that he says is swallowing his county.

As he drives his unmarked white SUV down Craig’s main drag, Grinstead points out a low-slung motel, where Craig police recently busted dealers with methamphetamine, the cheap, synthetically produced stimulant known for its long-lasting high. Not a block farther, he nods at a run-down apartment, a well-known crash pad for addicts. Up the hill, behind the main street, he pauses at a well-kept ranch-style home, where a few years ago a local developer was busted for cooking and selling the highly addictive drug, which traces its chemical lineage back to the stamina or “pep” pills given to both Allied and Axis soldiers during World War II.

Over the years, methamphetamine has claimed victims from across the socio-economic spectrum, but according to Grinstead and energy industry insiders, it has recently become epidemic on the oil and gas rigs sprouting in the dusty expanses around Craig, a small town of roughly 10,000 in the northwest corner of Colorado.
(3 October 2005)

In Canada’s Wilderness, Measuring the Cost of Oil Profits

Clifford Krauss, NY Times
FORT McMURRAY, Alberta – Just north of this boomtown of saloons and strip malls, a moonscape is expanding along with the price of oil.

Deep craters wider than football fields are being dug out of the pine and spruce forests and muskeg swamps by many of the largest multinational oil companies. Huge refineries that burn natural gas to refine the excavated gooey sands into synthetic oil are spreading where wolves and coyotes once roamed.

Beside the mining pits, propane cannons and scarecrows installed by the companies shoo away migrating birds from giant toxic lakes filled with water that was used in the process that separates oil sands from clay and dirt.

About 82,000 acres of forest and wetlands have been cleared or otherwise disturbed since development of oil sands began in earnest here in the late 1960’s, and that is just the start.
(9 October 2005)

Oil alternatives explored
Entrepreneurs, small companies hunt for fuel

Kent Bernhard Jr., MSNBC
Gas lines may remind you of the early 1970s, but higher prices are leading entrepreneurs and companies to look back to the 19th century and forward to the 22nd in the search for fuel.

The oil fields of Pennsylvania and Kentucky, active for decades, are once again on the radar screens of savvy investors and drillers. The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that a local entrepreneur has seen the partnerships he’s selling in Kentucky oil wells go like they’re running on high octane. “I hate to call it selling,” Jim Simpson told the Business Courier, “because all I have to do is tell people about it and they take it away from me.”

Production in Kentucky peaked in the 1950s, but with oil prices on the rise, interest in the area is expected to drive a 13-year high in new drilling permits.
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It’s a similar story in western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports. Even before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hammered Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas production, Pennsylvania — the birthplace of oil extraction — was experiencing a 20 percent surge in drilling permits for the second year. “We’re seeing much more activity now, but there is not enough men or equipment to satisfy demand,” said Jim McElwain, president of S.W. Jack Drilling in Indiana, Pa.

It’s not just the old fields experiencing new attention. It’s also some old debates, like offshore drilling.
(7 October 2005)

Will Diesels Have A Future In Europe?

Chris Ellis, EV World
In my view, we may have reached ‘Peak Diesel’ already. In fact, natural gas now appears to be the rising star. Want proof?

Consider that sales of diesel cars in France and Germany have started to decline. Europe is becoming much more dependent on natural gas, as oil gets increasingly expensive to extract and world demand continues to grow. Natural gas is being delivered as CNG via pipelines from the lands to the east, and as LNG in tankers from Libya, Dubai, etc. All the major European manufacturers already offer CNG versions of one or more models. Honda is in league with Gaz de France to push its domestic gas refueling system, PHILL. Given the high levels of tax on diesel fuels across Europe, it’s little wonder that bus and taxi companies are converting to CNG at a rapid pace, and sales of new diesel taxis and buses are falling away
(9 October 2005)
This is part two of Chris Ellis’ The Cars of 2015 and Beyond. Part one is also available online.

Brazil fights oil prices with alcohol

Andrew Downie, The Christian Science Monitor
Sales of ‘Flex’ cars that run on alcohol or gasoline surpassed August sales of gasoline-only vehicles.
Drivers are fighting rising gasoline prices by buying “flex” or “flexible fuel” cars that slurp more alcohol.

Alcohol made from sugar cane is becoming the fuel of choice in Brazil, and other countries – so much so that global sugar prices hit a seven-year high this week.
(7 October 2005)

Fuel cells ‘need political push’

Jo Twist, BBC
The world must actively push for alternative energy technologies such as fuel cells, says Sir David King, the UK government’s chief scientific advisor.

But there needs to be a cultural shift in energy production, he told delegates at a fuel cell symposium in London.

Humans had to adapt to climate change, he said, but government could encourage wide adoption of new technologies.

Fuel cells convert the chemical energy stored in fuels, such as hydrogen and methanol, into electrical energy.

They are seen as a great clean energy hope for future sustainable power generation.
(5 October 2005)