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Natural gas: big worry this winter

Simon Romero, NY Times
HOUSTON, Nov. 14 – Unexpectedly warm weather has bathed much of the United States in recent weeks, but fears persist that a classic energy shock may be unfolding as the nation heads into winter.

This time, though, the coming squeeze is in natural gas rather than oil. Executives at companies that consume large amounts of natural gas are warning – almost screaming – about the costs they expect to face over the coming months.

“Our monthly natural gas bill has doubled since August, from $700,000 to $1.4 million,” said Fletcher Steele, president of Pine Hall Brick in Winston-Salem, N.C. Mr. Steele said he planned to shut half of his production in January, when natural gas prices are expected to resume climbing again because of cold weather.

It is a problem that has been building for several years.
(14 November 2005)
Discussed at The Oil Drum: The problems of natural gas supply.
See also State of NY warns manufacturers of deficit in natural gas supply.

World’s largest natural gas project launched in Qatar

Gulf Times via
Qatar will invest about $ 14bn in Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company 3 (RL3) that will establish two super LNG trains (Trains 6 and 7) at Ras Laffan, the Second Deputy Premier HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah has said.

RL3, a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum (70%) and ExxonMobil Ras Laffan -III (30%), a wholly owned subsidiary of ExxonMobil, was formally launched yesterday. RasGas will operate the new company. It will produce gas from the North Field, which has natural gas reserves in excess of 900 trillion cubic feet. …

Al-Attiyah said the total investment of $ 14bn in RL3 would include the design, construction and operation of two 7.8mn tpy LNG trains and all other facilities associated with the development, production, transportation, processing, treatment, liquefaction, regasification, storage and delivery of liquefied natural gas. Also, the two trains will churn out 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) of associated condensate and 1.2mn tpy of liquefied petroleum gas. The Second Deputy Premier said train 6 was scheduled for a 2008 start up. Train 7 is slated to commence operation in 2009. …

“The formal launch of RL3 marks yet another milestone towards the realisation of the vision of HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to make Qatar the single largest supplier of LNG in the world. It will enable us to reach the targeted export figure of 77mn tpy by 2010,” he said. He said RasGas Train 5 would go onstream in early 2007. HH the Emir will inaugurate Train 4 on November 22. Currently, RasGas has three fully operational trains (Trains 1, 2 and 3). …
(16 November 2005)

Texas gas field draws big crowd
Barnett Shale proving prolific

Monica Perin, Houston Business Journal
A Houston company has hit a huge well in the Barnett Shale, a North Texas field described by one local energy research firm as “the hottest gas play in the U.S.” EOG Resources Inc., one of more than 100 oil and gas players active in the Barnett Shale, last week reported discovery of a well that produces a whopping 7.7 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. EOG Chairman Mark Papa told analysts the “monster well” looks like the biggest found to date in prolific Johnson County. Two other wells in the county are producing at initial rates of 7.5 million and 6.1 million cubic feet per day.

Proved discoveries and estimated reserves illustrate the enormous potential of the Barnett Shale. The field already produces a cumulative total of about 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas a day. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are 26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent in the Barnett Shale, although no one really knows how far the play extends.

Pursuit of such promising prospects has sent the rig count soaring from 30 in 2003 to around 100 today, with about 3,800 wells already drilled. Record natural gas prices have added even more impetus to exploration activity in the prolific field. …

Barnett Shale is an unconventional reservoir where gas and oil are locked in tight, low-porosity rock formations. While the hydrocarbons are not deep at about 7,500 feet, extracting them requires high-pressure “fracturing” technology using water and sand or other compounds to blast the rocks open. Fracturing techniques, along with horizontal drilling and record gas prices, have triggered heightened interest over the past five years.
(11 November 2005)

Electricity from wastewater

UPI via SpaceDaily
Professor Jurg Keller at Australia’s University of Queensland said he and his colleagues have discovered how to turn wastewater into electricity. “We’re very excited about it,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It has never been achieved before and there is really massive potential in this application.”

Keller said the complex process involves extracting the chemical energy from pollutants in wastewater and converting it to electricity using microbial fuel cells. “It’s all happening in a thin biofilm, a sort of slime layer on the electrode where bacteria are growing and directly producing an electrical current,” Keller told the newspaper, saying electricity was generated from the slime in much the same way energy is released when wood is burned. Keller said it is unlikely wastewater will provide power on a large scale. He said the most obvious application is powering wastewater treatment plants, particularly in developing countries or areas with an unreliable power supply.

“This is not a solution to any energy crisis,” he added. “It is primarily a wastewater treatment operation, but we’re doing it in a way that generates energy, as opposed to using a lot of energy.”
(14 November 2005)

Carbon dioxide storage a success

H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press via ENN
WASHINGTON — An experimental project in Canada to inject carbon dioxide into oil fields has proven successful, removing 5 million tons of the heat-trapping “greenhouse” gas, while enhancing oil recovery, the Energy Department said Tuesday.

If the methodology could be applied worldwide, from one-third to one-half of the carbon dioxide emissions that go into the atmosphere could be eliminated over the next century and billions of barrels of additional oil could be recovered, the department said.

The project is a joint effort by the Energy Department, the Canadian government and private industry.
(16 November 2005)