Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Cows make fuel for biogas train

Tim Franks, BBC
The world’s first biogas-powered passenger train is taking its first passengers between the Swedish cities of Linkoping and Vastervik. And the biogas comes from the entrails of dead cows.

Inside the abattoir at Swedish Meats in Linkoping, the cows stood patiently, occasionally nuzzling the lens of our camera. From there, it was a short walk past the white-walled butchery, down the steps to the basement where the raw material for biogas, slid greasily down a chute.

Still bubbling and burping, and carpeting you with an acrid stench, came the organs and the fat and the guts. Enough, from one cow, to get you about 4km (2.5 miles) on the train. A tanker collects the organic sludge and makes the short journey to the biogas factory, where the stinking fuel is stewed gently for a month, before the methane can be drawn off.

The boss of Svensk Biogas, Carl Lilliehook, is a proper, serious Swede. But his eyes twinkle at the biofuel “revolution”, as he calls it. You don’t have to look far beneath the number-crunching CEO to find the muesli-crunching environment-lover. Yes, he says, the train between Linkoping and Vastervik will cost 20% more to run on methane than on the usual diesel. But the oil price is going up and up, and in any case, Swedes care about being able to pick our mushrooms and their fruit.

Nor is it just trains. In Linkoping, the 65-strong bus fleet is powered by biogas. Indeed the city boasts that it was the first in the world to try out its buses on methane. The taxis, the rubbish trucks and a number of private cars also fill up at the biogas pump, housed under a dinky green corrugated iron roof. And if methane doesn’t light your fire, you can choose to have your car run on a high-grade biofuel mix. This year, Saab stared selling a biopowered version of their 95 model. Its engine will take a fuel cocktail which is up to 85% bioethanol, made, principally, from Brazilian sugar beet. …
(24 October 2005)

Tankard to gas tank
Coors ramping up production of ethanol from beer waste

Robert Sanchez, Denver Post
Golden – Two Colorado-based companies are finding that one answer to lessening the country’s dependence on foreign fuel imports might be hiding in the six-pack that you carry home from the grocery store.

Across a sliver of Clear Creek that cuts through the Coors brewery here, a maze of stainless steel pipes rise amid the sharp aroma of beer. On this site – roughly the size of a four-car garage – Coors Brewing Co. and Aurora-based Merrick & Company are using beer waste to process 1.5 million gallons of the gas substitute called ethanol. One 9-year-old plant distills residuals from beer making and has been such a success, officials from the brewer and engineering company said, that a second, $2.3 million plant will open later this month on the same site. The second plant will double ethanol production at the brewery, partly through inputting millions of gallons of spilled Coors, George Killian’s Irish Red and other beers directly into the process via an underground pipeline.

“With the demand high and the need even higher, it seemed like a great time to expand,” said Steven Wagner, the Merrick vice president who helps lead the Coors ethanol project. Under a 15-year agreement, the company leases land from Coors, buys the residuals from the brewer and owns the plant. The ethanol – made in much the same way as moonshine – is sold under a contract with Valero Energy Corp., which distributes the beer-ethanol to Diamond Shamrock stations across the Front Range.

“We’ve basically taken a waste stream and turned it into a revenue stream,” Wagner said. Both plants combined will produce only a fraction of the expected 4 billion gallons of ethanol sold nationwide next year, but supporters say the plan illustrates the growing demand for gasoline substitutes as the country battles skyrocketing fuel costs and attempts to expand existing gasoline supplies. …
(24 October 2005)

Uganda Threatened By Looming Desert
Charcoal consumption driving deforestation

Fred Ouma, New Vision (Uganda) via
UGANDA’S woodland is fast shrinking. The country’s exposure to natural hazards is escalating as human activities drastically alter the delicate ecological balance to a mere windswept desert. …

“We used to have two rainy seasons of three months each. But now the rains come at unexpected times. Sometimes it does not even rain for a whole year ,” says Perusi Kyakuhaire, 63, from Pakanyi Village in Masindi. Masindi is one of the main charcoal producing districts hit hard with climate change. Scientists warn that the country’s shrinking forests, may be gone by 2025, if no action is taken. “The very survival of Uganda is threatened by a looming desert,” says Paul Drichi, coordinator of inventory and surveys at the National Forestry Authority (NFA). Drichi says the situation on the country’s woodland is getting worse with the growing population and infrastructure. “The demand for forest products is increasingly more than supply and this is disrupting the ecosystem that support life,” he says.

Uganda has an annual wood consumption of about 26 million tonnes. Charcoal, which is produced using traditional kilns with efficiency as low as 10%, accounts for between 15% to 20% of the wood supply, mainly used in urban areas. According to the 2002 national population and housing census, woody biomass caters for 97% of Uganda’s energy needs, about 30 times petroleum and electricity combined. The NFA study on national biomass in 2004 showed that the demand for wood will triple to over 60 million tonnes by 2025. Moreover, the high tariffs imposed on insufficient alternative sources of energy like electricity and petroleum dictate that wood will continue to dominate as a source of energy. …
(24 October 2005)

Crude Oil vs. the State

Craig Stanley, Resource Investor
TORONTO — The drop in crude oil prices this past week has led to sighs of relief from all the Chicken Littles’ warning that high prices would cause global economic contraction and runaway inflation.

Ignoring both that high crude prices the past few years are the result of demand growth, and would not necessarily lead to the same economic results as supply-constriction price hikes, and that a two-week decline indicates nothing on a long-term scale, prices are still well above both nominal and real historical averages and may have experienced a paradigm shift. One possible outcome of such a shift could be the loss of reserve replacement ability from large, publicly-traded producers to OPEC and state-owned firms.
(21 October 2005)

Oil and Saudi Arabia – Part 1

Ferdinand E. Banks,
Everything that you need to know about the future of Saudi Arabian oil production can be found in a staff report to the subcommittee on international economic policy of the committee on foreign relations of the United States Senate (1979). Regardless of what you may or may not have heard on that increasingly relevant subject, between 1979 and now hardly anything has changed, although the question must still be asked why this and similar documents were – and still are – overlooked by many energy professionals.

The purpose of this article is to add few observations on the structure and dynamics of the global oil market to my earlier work on the subject, which means that I have to repeat some previous materials. Geology and supply-demand mechanics are still of crucial importance, but more attention has been paid to what might be called ‘petroleum (= oil + gas) microeconomics’, as well as certain game-theoretical insinuations. Some very useful background to the present exposition is provided in an article by Murray Duffin (2004) on EnergyPulse. …
(24 October 2005)
Mr Banks articles on the industry are always informative.-LJ