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Hybrid tractor prototype (Aus.)
Case IH reportedly has developed a tractor that is powered by a diesel engine and a transmission that incorporates two 50kW (67hp) electric motor/generators.

Still in the developmental stage, the ProHybrid EECVT is based on a Case MXM tractor and uses technology from the Steyr continuously variable transmission (CVT) now used in Case IH’s CVX tractors. While a standard CVT combines mechanical and hydraulic drives to initiate stepless ratio changes, the new hybrid system introduces electrical power into the driveline (in place of oil pumps and motors) but retains the mechanical aspects of the more conventional setup.

Similar to a standard CVT, the system uses a greater proportion of mechanical drive as speed increases. Pumping out a maximum of 160hp, the diesel engine provides the power for both the mechanical drive and the electrical system.

Excess energy that would otherwise be wasted is stored in a large battery that sits on the tractor’s nose in place of front weights.
(25 November 2005)

LNG powered mine trucks

Westport Innovations Inc. Press Release via
Canadian Westport Innovations Inc. and Energy Developments Limited (ENE) (ASX:ENE) of Queensland, Australia, today announced they have signed a new exclusive agreement for the next phase of programme and business planning for liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered mine trucks. The programme involves the application of Westport’s proprietary High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) technology to allow large mine trucks to operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG). …

Western Australia has extensive reserves of natural gas and supplies about 10 per cent of the world’s LNG. Natural gas in Australia is one-third to one-half of the cost in North America, and a number of mine sites also have access to coal-seam methane (CSM) that could be converted to LNG. This price advantage over diesel fuel offers strong economic incentive for fuel consumers to consider ways to use LNG in their operations.

Australian mines operate a significant portion of the world’s mine trucks that typically haul over 200 tonnes per truckload. These vehicles utilize high horsepower diesel engines that generate upwards of 2,000 horsepower and consume large quantities of fuel as they operate around the clock, every day of the year. Using natural gas in mining operations and other off-road applications in Australia offers significant benefits in terms of fuel cost savings and emission reductions. We believe that HPDI is ideally suited to the demanding industrial environments such as mine trucks, said Bruce Hodgins, Westport’s Vice-President for Market Development. With EDL’s customer base in the mining sector in Australia, and their interest to provide LNG fuel to these remote sites, we are encouraged that we will be able to build a strong business case for this initiative.

HPDI delivers the high performance and high efficiency requirements of off-road applications such as mine trucks and railway locomotives. With HPDI engines, approximately 95% of the diesel fuel consumed in a diesel engine is displaced with natural gas. A typical mine truck with a HPDI natural gas engines could achieve emission reductions of approximately 14 tonnes of nitrogen oxides, 650 kilograms of particulate matter, and 950 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. …
(28 Noember 2005)

China May Drill Philippine Oil That Shell, Chevron Rejected

China National Offshore Oil Corp., the nation’s third-biggest oil producer, may drill a field off the Philippine coast that Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp. abandoned as unprofitable. “We are studying” the Malampaya reserve, China National Offshore Vice-President Zhou Shouwei said today at the Ascope oil and gas conference in Manila. Shell and Chevron said on Sept. 30 tapping the oil would cost as much as $900 million, making the investment uneconomic. …
The Malampaya field may have 25 million barrels of oil, Shell and Chevron said in a letter received by the Philippine Energy Department on Sept. 30. China National Offshore’s interest in tapping the deposit was reported earlier this month by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Manila Standard, citing Vice-President Zhu Weilin. Shell and Chevron each have a 45 percent stake in a $4.5 billion project to tap natural gas from 3,000 meters below sea level in the same field off the Philippine island of Palawan. The gas supplies power stations through a 504-kilometer pipeline. Oil and gas deposits are often found in the same location.

China National Offshore and Philippine National Oil Co. also agreed during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the Philippines in May to look for oil and gas off Calamian Island near Malampaya, according to a statement from the Philippines’ foreign ministry.
(30 November 2005)

LA suburbs sprout oil derricks as city taps into slimy past

Chris Ayres, Times Online
THE rusting oil derricks that once pumped crude from beneath the streets of Los Angeles are being brought back to life almost 50 years after being abandoned.

The derricks — black, hammer-like contraptions that squat over oil wells — were long ago rendered uneconomic by falling petroleum prices and the soaring value of property in Southern California. But now, with the price of crude oil near a record high and the property market rapidly cooling, Tinseltown has rediscovered its less glamorous economic roots. As one oil industry lawyer once said: “They ruined a perfectly good oilfield by building a city on top of it.”

In the Signal Hill area, an oil drill has started boring into the earth next to a Starbucks. In Long Beach, drills have been disguised as tropical islands, with waterfalls and banana trees. And in Venice, the rigs pose as lighthouses and office blocks. Analysts say that many Los Angeles wells were plugged after giving up only 25 per cent of their oil — even though modern technology allows up to 50 per cent of a reserve to be drained. Now those wells are being hastily reactivated.
(30 November 2005)

Gas supply crisis may be in the pipeline for UK

John Bowker, The Scotsman
HE MAY have had to dash into a side-room to evade the wrath of Greenpeace, but Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, finally blurted out the inevitable: an energy crisis is looming and it needs to be addressed. Energy was “back on the agenda with a vengeance”, he announced. “Round the world you can sense feverish rethinking. Energy prices have risen. Energy supply is under threat.” …

So, how did we mistime it so spectacularly? David Odling, gas and commercial issues manager at oil and gas body UKOOA, admits that the industry “should have known” of the problem around 1999 or 2000 – when UK production reached its peak.
But he adds: “The problem is that you sometimes can’t see the top of the mountain until you are standing on top of it.” He adds – reasonably – that the planning process in the UK has become so tortuous that it was impossible to rush through the projects. …

Storage is highlighted by Ofgem as one of the key drivers of last week’s high gas prices – more even than fears over security of supply. “The much colder weather than usual increased demand,” it said, “which led to gas being taken out of storage earlier than normal. “This is more expensive … as storage operators will only sell stored gas if prices are at, or above, the levels that they would expect to receive if they sold it in January or February, the period when it is usually used.” …
(30 November 2005)