Energy sources - Jan 23
Click on the headline (link) for the full text.
Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Oil Sands Projects Steam Ahead in Alberta, Despite Harper
Eileen Bircher, SP, Axcess News
Toronto - The Bush administration last week urged Canada's natural resources agency to increase oilsands production in the Alberta province five-fold to 5 million barrels per day, but a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said "not at the expense of the environment." Meanwhile, while Harper turns his back on Alberta, oil companies are steaming ahead with plans of their own to develop the world's largest oil reserve and by the looks of things, one junior producer appears to be ahead of the pack.
Yet, according to the minutes of the Houston meeting, to multiply its output by five and to do it quickly, Canada would have to streamline its environmental regulations for new energy projects. The Tories say that's not about to happen, not at the expense of the environment.
(23 Jan 2007)
Rogers Says Oil Will Rise to $100 After `Correction'
Wendy Pugh and Yasumasa Song, Bloomberg
Oil will resume its march toward $100 a barrel after a ``correction,'' said Jim Rogers, who predicted the start of the commodities rally in 1999.
``I'm just not smart enough to know how far down it will go and how long it will stay, but I do know that within the context of the bull market, oil will go over $100,'' Rogers said in a Tokyo interview. ``It will go over $150. Whether that is in 2009 or 2013, I don't have a clue, but I know it's going to happen.''
Crude oil in New York has fallen 34 percent to a 19-month low since it peaked at a record $78.40 a barrel in July. Rogers, author of ``Hot Commodities,'' has said oil will keep rising because there hasn't been a major discovery for 30 years and economic growth in China and across Asia is driving up demand.
Rogers, 64, who created a series of commodities indexes and foresees a long-term bull market in oil, metals and grains, said he hadn't changed his positive view.
(18 Jan 2007)
Coal Combustion: Nuclear Resource or Danger
Alex Gabbard, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Over the past few decades, the American public has become increasingly wary of nuclear power because of concern about radiation releases from normal plant operations, plant accidents, and nuclear waste. Except for Chernobyl and other nuclear accidents, releases have been found to be almost undetectable in comparison with natural background radiation. Another concern has been the cost of producing electricity at nuclear plants. It has increased largely for two reasons: compliance with stringent government regulations that restrict releases of radioactive substances from nuclear facilities into the environment and construction delays as a result of public opposition.
Partly because of these concerns about radioactivity and the cost of containing it, the American public and electric utilities have preferred coal combustion as a power source. Today 52% of the capacity for generating electricity in the United States is fueled by coal, compared with 14.8% for nuclear energy. Although there are economic justifications for this preference, it is surprising for two reasons. First, coal combustion produces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are suspected to cause climatic warming, and it is a source of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides, which are harmful to human health and may be largely responsible for acid rain. Second, although not as well known, releases from coal combustion contain naturally occurring radioactive materials--mainly, uranium and thorium.
Former ORNL researchers J. P. McBride, R. E. Moore, J. P. Witherspoon, and R. E. Blanco made this point in their article "Radiological Impact of Airborne Effluents of Coal and Nuclear Plants" in the December 8, 1978, issue of Science magazine. They concluded that Americans living near coal-fired power plants are exposed to higher radiation doses than those living near nuclear power plants that meet government regulations. This ironic situation remains true today and is addressed in this article.
The fact that coal-fired power plants throughout the world are the major sources of radioactive materials released to the environment has several implications. It suggests that coal combustion is more hazardous to health than nuclear power and that it adds to the background radiation burden even more than does nuclear power. It also suggests that if radiation emissions from coal plants were regulated, their capital and operating costs would increase, making coal-fired power less economically competitive.
...Both the benefits and hazards of coal combustion are more far-reaching than are generally recognized. Technologies exist to remove, store, and generate energy from the radioactive isotopes released to the environment by coal combustion. When considering the nuclear consequences of coal combustion, policymakers should look at the data and recognize that the amount of uranium-235 alone dispersed by coal combustion is the equivalent of dozens of nuclear reactor fuel loadings. They should also recognize that the nuclear fuel potential of the fertile isotopes of thorium-232 and uranium-238, which can be converted in reactors to fissionable elements by breeding, yields a virtually unlimited source of nuclear energy that is frequently overlooked as a natural resource.
In short, naturally occurring radioactive species released by coal combustion are accumulating in the environment along with minerals such as mercury, arsenic, silicon, calcium, chlorine, and lead, sodium, as well as metals such as aluminum, iron, lead, magnesium, titanium, boron, chromium, and others that are continually dispersed in millions of tons of coal combustion by-products. The potential benefits and threats of these released materials will someday be of such significance that they should not now be ignored.
(X Jan 2007)
Contributer EG writes: "More energy goes up the smokestacks of coal fired power plants in the form of uranium and thorium than the coal produces."
It's likely that Oak Ridge National Laboratory has a vested interest in pointing out problems with coal. Nonetheless, their studies may be relevant. -BA
UPDATE from MP: "The information about radioactive emissions from coal plants being more than from nuclear ones has been known for years, was in the press in the 70's or 80's, as I remember. Not new with the ORNL study "
Elena Vladimirovna, Chernobyl journal
There are more than 1,000 dead towns and villages (some say there are twice that many) within a radius of 250 kms (155 miles) around the twisted, Chernobyl reactor. There is no way to count all the villages because many have been systematically demolished by the authorities.
Traveling through the dead zone I have yet to see any ruined church. Looters are superstitious folks and are afraid to rob churches. Also, nearby community members come to fix the abandoned churches every few years, so they stand longer than all other buildings in the area.
Doors in these old churches are unlocked. There is nothing valuable inside, only a couple of cheap icons, towels and slightly radioactive Bible - usually opened to the page where the age of wormwood is foretold (Revelation 8: 10,11). Few people can remain unaffected when they learn that the Ukrainian word for 'wormwood' is 'Chernobyl'. I am not exception and this inspired me to explore the sacred side of Chernobyl.
At worst, casting Chernobyl into a biblical drama makes for some good reading. -AF
Hungarian gas field could turn country into gas exporter
Balazs Szladek, Interfax
Hungary could become a net exporter of natural gas within five years if a large natural gas field, currently being developed by Canadian-owned Falcon Oil and Gas near the southern Hungarian town of Mako, fulfills its potential, Falcon Oil and Gas Chairman and CEO Marc A. Bruner told Interfax in an interview.
"It's my belief that if this deposit is everything that we hope it is, it's entirely possible that within five years Hungary could be a country exporting gas," Bruner said. "Hungary could have enough gas to take care of its own needs, and it could export gas to other places, to Romania, to Serbia, to Western Europe."
Falcon Oil and Gas has carried out gas exploration activities near Mako since late 2005 through its fully-owned Hungarian subsidiary TXM Kft. The company recently announced that there is a 90% possibility that the Mako Trough concession holds 21.8 trln cubic feet (ca. 617 bln cubic meters) of natural gas, and a 50% possibility that the field holds 54.9 trln cubic feet (ca. 1,555 bln cubic meters) of gas. Test production is expected to start in 60-90 days.
(18 Jan 2007)