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Energy industry - Feb 12

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Germaine Greer on Dubai

Germaine Greer, Guardian
From its artificial islands to its boring new skycraper, Dubai's architecture is beyond crass
If Monaco is, in Jack Nicholson's phrase, Alcatraz for the rich, what shall we make of Dubai? Dubai is a city built between the desert and the pale blue sea, that uses more water per capita than anywhere else in the world, and derives 97% of it from desalination, which means that it is the most expensive water in the world. Much of that water is being used to create a garden in the desert. All across the sprawling conurbation, labourers can be seen planting out millions, possibly billions, of bedding plants, into sand banks perpetually moistened by drip irrigation. Dubai has been built on the premise that nothing succeeds like excess.

... Only 6% of Dubai's revenue comes from oil; the city makes most of its money out of inventing, creating, building and trading real estate. Hence Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's hubristic notion of building an archipelago out of sand dredged from the Persian Gulf, 300 islets arranged in a resemblance of the world map, and calling it Dubai World. Thousands of workers trucked in from poor countries constructed the patches of exposed sand, and the infrastructure that furnishes each with water and power.
(9 February 2009)

Tar sands boom hits a sticky patch

Andrew Clark, The Guardian
Plunging oil prices spell disaster for energy bonanza that rivalled Saudi Arabia
Twinkling and flashing furiously, slot machines at the Boomtown Casino are bleeping at empty seats. Only a handful of burly men occupy the poker tables and there are few drinkers around the bar. In Canada's youngest oil town, the gambling emporium is quiet.

After five years of frenetic building and activity, a race to extract crude from vast tracts of the Canadian oil sands has abruptly stalled, hit by a collapse in the price of a barrel of oil from a peak of $147 last July to barely $40.
(7 February 2009)

Gail the Actuary visits Chevron's Kern River Facility

Gail Tverberg, The Oil Drum
Recently, I visited Chevron's Kern River Heavy Oil field, near Bakersfield California, as a guest of the American Petroleum Institute. Kern River is an extremely old field, discovered in 1899. The oil flows a bit on its own (API=13), but really needs to be heated to be easily extracted or to be shipped by pipeline. After more than a hundred years of pumping, most of the available oil has been extracted--a total of a little over 2 billion barrels has been extracted. The additional amount that can be extracted will depend on the price of oil and how well Chevron can minimize costs.

The site produces about 80,000 barrels a day from 8,000 producing wells, meaning that on average, each well produces about 10 barrels of oil a day. In order to make money with this type of operation, Chevron must be very efficient in everything it does--reusing equipment whenever possible, using the best techniques possible to find the remaining pockets of oil, and prioritizing the workload of the employees, based on which activities are most likely to produce a profit, and which activities are not cost effective.

In the recent past, production has been declining at 2% or 3% a year. Chevron's goal in the near future is to hold the decline rate to 1% per year. No one knows how much additional oil can profitably be produced, but rough guesses were in the 200 to 500 million barrel range. This range equates to 10% to 25% of the oil produced to date as possibly being economically available for extraction.

In this post, I will tell you a little about what I learned on my trip, and also offer some thoughts on whether heavy oil is likely to be a panacea for peak oil.
(10 February 2009)

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