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Fuel Use Spreads Vegoil too Thin for Margarine Firms

AMSTERDAM – Fierce competition over rapeseed oil for use either in biodiesel fuels or foods has margarine makers worried about a shortage for the spread people put on their bread. Big European food makers like Anglo-Dutch Unilever are concerned about getting enough rape oil as soaring crude oil prices prompt biofuel producers to ratchet up production, an industry association said.

“If the current trend in EU biodiesel production continues over the coming five years, our estimates indicate that the rape oil usage for biodiesel production alone would exceed the total rape oil production volume,” Inneke Herreman, secretary general of the International Margarine Association of the Countries of Europe (IMACE), told Reuters.

Soaring crude oil prices have made biofuels produced of rape, soy and palm oil even more attractive in the EU, where tax incentives have already stimulated the “green” fuels. Herreman said the margarine industry, whose biggest member is Unilever, wants policy makers to take their concerns onboard and stimulate energy alternatives made from non-edible oils, instead of those oils fit for human consumption.

“The EU food industry is thus facing an ever-tightening residual supply and sharply rising prices of rape oil, further encouraged by the high mineral oil prices,” she said. Rape oil — the product most used by the biodiesel industry because of its availability and quality — has gained about 100 euros a tonne since early September to about 627, leaving food producers scrambling to find material to cover their needs. …
(21 October 2005)

Stirling solar energy generators

Tricia Schmidt,
The sun-blasted wilderness of the US Southwestern deserts may hold the key to our energy future. Stirling Energy Systems (SES) has found a way to turn all of that sunlight and heat into electricity. According to them, their system is twice as efficient as the best photovoltaic cells available. Stirling Energy Systems builds a system that focuses the heat of the sun onto a proprietary engine that uses a closed hydrogen system to produce electricity. …

Where traditional photovoltaic solar generation uses only 15% of the sun’s energy at best, the Stirling system converts 30% of that energy into electricity. The system is composed of a 37-foot diameter dish of mirrors that focus the sun’s light onto a Stirling engine. The engine contains hydrogen which when heated expands, moving pistons, which turns a flywheel that is used to generate electricity. The hydrogen is not depleted in the process and so never needs to be replenished. The dish turns throughout the day to follow the sun. At night and on cloudy days, you need batteries. …
(12 October 2005)

Oil mallee tree may be fuel alternative

AAP via The Age (Au)
The humble oil mallee tree could provide an alternative fuel for diesel engine vehicles within 10 years, according to a Melbourne researcher. Dr Damon Honnery, of Monash University, said the wood from the oil mallee tree could be heated to high temperatures to produce a vapour that could be condensed into liquid.

He said the condensed liquid could be used after refining as a fuel for diesel engines. So far the oil had only been used in a test engine. “We haven’t run it in a car … It’s not ready to put in a car engine right now,” Dr Honnery said. “The very fine filtering systems on cars would prohibit the use of this fuel.”

He said researchers had to work out what had to be done to upgrade the fuel so that it would be suitable for diesel engines, but he believed it could be done within a decade. “We’ve been funded for five years … but certainly if we had the right level of funding I would have thought 10 years would be quite feasible.”
Dr Honnery said the oil mallee was a suitable alternative to ethanol and biodiesel because it was not a food crop, so there would be no direct market competition for it.

“Who knows what the population will be in 10 or 20 years time, or 50 years time when we’re still desperately trying to find liquid fuels … I can guarantee the conversion of a food stock to a fuel is going to be challenged.” Dr Honnery is part of a team including researchers from Monash University, University of Melbourne and Britain’s Aston University working on the project.
(20 October 2005)

Iraq Oil Output Hurt By High Associated Water – Report

Dow Jones Newswires
BAGHDAD -(Dow Jones)- Crude oil production in Iraq’s southern oilfields is being hurt by high percentage of water contamination due to lack of proper maintenance and investment, Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum said in remarks published Sunday.

“The most dangerous thing facing our oil production in the Basra oilfields is the high percentage of water in produced crude oil,” Bahr al-Uloum said in local newspaper al-Sabah. Iraq’s southern oil fields account for most of the country’s current 2.1 million barrels a day production. Iraq produces 1.8 million b/d from the south and around 300,000 b/d from the north. According to the state-owned South Oil Co. which is in charge of the oil operations, 120 wells in oil fields in the south need to be rehabilitated or drilled. The SOC has recently issued a tender seeking bidders to drill 20 new oil wells in West Qurna oil field. The tender was reissued after U.S. and other Western companies – such as Halliburton Co. (HAL) unit KBR – refused to commit to the work because of security. …

Bahr al-Uloum said that Iraq’s hydrocarbon sector requires $30 billion investment for rehabilitation and modernization to help lift oil production to 5.5 million to 6 million b/d. He said a $5 billion or so that the government is planning to allocate for the oil sector in 2006 wouldn’t be enough to raise Iraq’s oil production. “We definitely won’t be able to raise oil production to 4 million b/d without allowing foreign investment in the oil sector.”
(23 October 2005)
Other Iraq news: Blasts halt north Iraq oil exports.-LJ

Oil shale: Another boom?

Sandy Shore, Associated Press via My San Antionio
Editor’s Note — Western oil shale has long intrigued energy companies looking to cash in on a domestic resource worth billions. But the shale industry has gone bust before and no one is sure whether oil can be melted out of underground rock in a way that makes financial sense. The Associated Press evaluates the potential of oil shale in the West.

PARACHUTE, Colo. — The brush-covered landscape of buttes and desert just west of the Rockies, already dotted with oil and gas rigs, could be in store for another resource boom as the energy industry turns a fresh eye toward developing oil shale.

A reserve estimated at nearly 1 trillion barrels of oil buried deep in rock formations in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming may be a way to ease U.S. dependence on foreign oil supplies. The newly enacted energy bill was written to help open the way for research programs and commercial leasing of federal land containing oil shale.

Yet shale isn’t a quick panacea to the nation’s energy woes. This oil is locked in rock, not easy to tap. …
(23 October 2005)