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High illness rate near oilsands worrisome, says Alberta health official

CBC News
A medical examiner in Alberta wants to know why there are reports of serious illnesses, including a rare cancer, in a small First Nations community near the province’s oilsands.

Oilsands development approximately 75 km north of Fort McMurray. (CP file photo)

A high number of illnesses, including leukemia, lymphomas, lupus, and autoimmune diseases, have been diagnosed in Fort Chipewyan, a community of about 1,200 people living 300 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

Elders in the community say they didn’t see these kinds of diseases until the oil industry started production near their homes on the southwestern tip of Lake Athabasca.

Syncrude and Suncor extract and process hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day in their oil sands projects near the community.
(10 March 2006)
Recommended by Green Car Congress.

Air Force committed to energy-efficient strategies

Senior Airman J.G. Buzanowski, Blackanthem Military News
The Air Force continues its pledge to be a leader in energy stewardship.

For the last six months, the Air Force has been working on a strategy to have energy as a consideration in nearly all of its activities, from operations to acquisition. The Air Force is increasing efforts to reduce the demand for energy using good building design, advanced planning tools for operations, more efficient jet engines and better conservation practices, said Undersecretary of the Air Force Dr. Ronald Sega.

According to Dr. Sega, the Air Force is also looking at alternative sources of energy, from potential conversion of natural gas or coal to jet fuel, to increased use of renewable energy sources.

In October, the Air Force won a 2005 Green Power Leadership Award for its commitment to green power as the nation’s largest purchaser of renewable energy for 2004. Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Center for Resource Solutions, the award recognizes organizations whose actions help advance the development of the nation’s renewable energy market.

In fact, in 2005, the Air Force purchased more than a million megawatts of energy derived from wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources, Dr. Sega said. This million-plus megawatt represents a threefold increase over the 2004 amount, and is enough energy to power the needs of 70,000 average-size homes for an entire year.
(11 March 2006; recommended by Big Gav)

China to fill strategic oil reserve in ’06

AP via Business Week
China expects to start filling its strategic oil reserves at Zhenhai in the eastern province of Zhejiang by the end of this year, the minister who heads the country’s economic planning agency said Monday.

Ma Kai, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said construction of the 16-tank Zhenhai facility was finished. Three more strategic oil reserve facilities are due to be completed in 2007 and 2008, he told reporters on the sidelines of China’s annual lemgislative session.
(6 March 2006, recommended by reader M)

UK natural gas shortage sends prices soaring

UK natural gas prices hit a new record on Monday, as supply troubles forced National Grid to issue an alert asking industrial users to curb their usage.

The wholesale price of gas deliverable today quadrupled to as much as 255 pence a therm due to supply fears.

Gas supplies are tight at the moment because the country’s main storage facility is shut and the recent cold snap has seen domestic usage soar.

If they get worse, industrial users could see their supplies shut off.
(13 March 2006, recommended by reader Z)
Related story at Bloomberg.

Getting gas from crude

Heading Out, The Oil Drum
Some recent posts have dealt with coal production, so for a change I thought I would return to oil, for a couple of techie talks. It seems particularly relevant since the discussion has returned to the Canadian Oil Sands again, and the oil that is coming from them. But before getting there what I wanted to talk about was the differences that exist in what to some folk is just “crude oil,” with the assumption that it is all the same, In writing about coal, it was fairly simple to show that the different stages of coal as it changes from peat to anthracite, mean that you get different amounts of energy from it, and it can be extracted with differing amounts of energy. The fact that there is a fair bit of difference in crude oils is not always as easily understood.

This then will be a relatively simplistic look at the different potential hydrocarbons that might make up a crude oil, and how we can get them apart. I’ll post next time on how we can break the separated flows into other products. This, then, is a short techie talk in the oil production series, earlier posts in which are given at the end of the post.

Crude oil is made up of a mixture of hydro-carbons, which are the different ways in which carbon and hydrogen can combine, starting with such simple compounds as methane (CH4) and progressing to more complex ones with greater numbers of carbon atoms. Oils from different places have different combinations of the major constituents, for example, this is from Kuwait. Because they are fluids mixed together, it is not very easy to separate out the different valuable parts (known as fractions) by a mechanical means. However if you heat up the crude oil blend, then it will vaporize.
(13 March 2006)