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Scientists find big Afghan oil resources

John Heilprin, Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Two geological basins in northern Afghanistan hold 18 times the oil and triple the natural gas resources previously thought, scientists said Tuesday as part of a U.S. assessment aimed at enticing energy development in the war-torn country.

Nearly 1.6 billion barrels of oil, mostly in the Afghan-Tajik Basin, and about 15.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, mainly in the Amu Darya Basin, could be tapped, said the U.S. Geological Survey and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and Industry.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai described the estimates as “very positive findings,” particularly since the country now imports most of its energy, including electricity.
(14 March 2006)
Pointed out by cartoonist Ted Rall in his blog entry: Afghanistan: All About Oil, Just Like Iraq.

Mexico’s Lopez, Fox Clash on Energy Policy Ahead of Elections

Thomas Back, Bloomberg
Andres Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s leading presidential candidate, said he plans to build refineries and petrochemical plants to eliminate imports and reduce energy prices for consumers.

His energy plan calls for boosting gasoline production by 400,000 barrels a day, maintaining crude production at 3.4 million barrels a day and spending 15 billion pesos ($1.4 billion) a year on exploration to replace 100 percent of proven reserves each year, Lopez Obrador said in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, during an event commemorating the 68th anniversary of Mexico’s expropriation of foreign oil assets.

President Vicente Fox, at a refinery in the southern state of Oaxaca, spoke today against energy subsidies and encouraged more public and private investments in the state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, the world’s third-largest oil company by crude production.
(19 March 2006)

Analysts skeptical of claims of a large Mexican oil find

Elisabeth Malkin, NY Times
MEXICO CITY, March 16 — Analysts say they are skeptical of news this week from the Mexican state oil monopoly that exploratory drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico shows signs of a giant new oil field.

Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, says that early indications suggest that the field could be as large as 10 billion barrels. But analysts said that it was premature to make an estimate based on preliminary drilling.

“To me it’s entirely speculative and hypothetical,” said David Shields, an oil analyst and consultant in Mexico City.

Even if further testing confirms that there is a significant deepwater find, the company has neither the money nor the expertise to exploit it. Mexico’s oil industry, long a symbol of national sovereignty, is essentially closed to outside investment.
(17 March 2006)
There are two very different ways of reporting this issue. One, which the NY Times has taken, has presented it as an example of recalcitrant governments reluctant to open up to the capable hands of foreign investment. The other view is that countries with fossil fuel resources, such as Nigeria, Ecuador and Venezuela, need to exert more control over the extraction of their underground wealth for the benefit of the population. -BA

Mexican oilfield crucial to U.S. facing decline (Knight Ridder)

Nuclear reactors found to be leaking radioactive water

Matthew L. Wald, New York Times via Common Dreams
WASHINGTON – With power cleaner than coal and cheaper than natural gas, the nuclear industry, 20 years past its last meltdown, thinks it is ready for its second act: its first new reactor orders since the 1970’s.

But there is a catch. The public’s acceptance of new reactors depends in part on the performance of the old ones, and lately several of those have been discovered to be leaking radioactive water into the ground.

Near Braceville, Ill., the Braidwood Generating Station, owned by the Exelon Corporation, has leaked tritium into underground water that has shown up in the well of a family nearby.

…A spokesman for Exelon, Craig Nesbit, said that neither Godley’s water nor Braidwood’s water system was threatened, but that the company had lost credibility when it did not publicly disclose a huge fuel oil spill and spills of tritium from 1996 to 2003. No well outside company property shows levels that exceed drinking water standards, he said.

…Tritium, a form of hydrogen with two additional neutrons in its nucleus, is especially vexing. The atom is unstable and returns to stability by emitting a radioactive particle. Because the hydrogen is incorporated into a water molecule, it is almost impossible to filter out. The biological effect of the radiation is limited because, just like ordinary water, water that incorporates tritium does not stay in the body long.

…After years of flat employment levels, the industry is preparing to hire hundreds of new engineers. Luis A. Reyes, the executive director for operations at the regulatory commission, told the industry gathering last week, “We’ll take your résumé in hard copy, online, whatever you can do,” eliciting laughter from an audience heavy with executives of reactor operators and companies that want to build new ones.
(17 March 2006)

Nuclear power an expensive red herring

David Suzuki
Wouldn’t it be great if there were an easy answer to the problem of climate change? And wouldn’t it be great if we could solve our electricity needs at the same time?

Yes, it would be, but wishful thinking won’t solve these complex problems. And neither will nuclear power.

Last week, the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission urged British Prime Minister Tony Blair to reject building new nuclear reactors as an option to meet electricity demand and slow climate change. Instead, the commission recommended an aggressive expansion of energy efficiency programs and renewable energy.

The commission based its decision on eight new research papers. Together, these papers led commission members to conclude that although nuclear power is a low-carbon technology with a good safety record in the UK, the benefits are outweighed by serious disadvantages. These include: the “disposal” of radioactive waste; the high cost of reactors; the inflexibility of depending on a few large-scale power plants; the issue of relying on constantly increasing energy supply, rather than reducing demand; and concerns over security.
(17 March 2006)

Computer servers’ energy efficiency becoming issue

Reuben Schwarz, NZ Scoop
The energy efficiency of datacentres is becoming a big worry for some New Zealand companies, says the head of IBM’s server business in Australasia, as they find they can’t get enough power into their buildings to run and cool all the servers they need.

Traditionally companies have chosen servers that give the most bang for their buck, choosing faster processors without worrying much about energy efficiency.

But rising energy costs mean companies overseas are looking at a longer-term strategy to minimise rising energy costs with more efficient servers.

Information Week in the US has reported that companies are now spending more money powering and cooling servers than on acquiring the hardware in the first place.
(20 March 2006)

New renewables to invest $1,380 billion over 20 years

The world will invest an average of US$69 billion a year in emerging renewables over the next two decades, according to the latest forecast from the McIlvaine Company.

The annual global energy investment will be $304 billion a year for 20 years, explains the online ‘World Market for Your Products’ report. The largest investment category will be coal-fired boilers with an average investment of $48 billion a year, but the trend for coal will decline from $10 billion a year in the first decade to an average of $6 billion in the final decade. Upgrades to coal-fired plants will be another $8 billion, while new and upgraded refineries will require $40 billion.

Fossil synthetic fuels will invest $35 billion, $27 for gas turbines, $25 for natural gas production, $16 for oil production, $15 for nuclear, $12 for liquid natural gas and $9 billion for coal gasification, it reports.

Among renewables, wind energy will lead with $30 billion a year of investment over the two decades, followed by biomass at $16 billion, solar at $13 and ethanol at $10 billion a year.
(15 March 2006)
I’m not sure what fossil ‘synthetic’ fuels are. Perhaps liquids from coal etc? -AF