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Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers

Ian Urbina, New York Times
The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century’s gold rush — for natural gas.

The gas has always been there, of course, trapped deep underground in countless tiny bubbles, like frozen spills of seltzer water between thin layers of shale rock. But drilling companies have only in recent years developed techniques to unlock the enormous reserves, thought to be enough to supply the country with gas for heating buildings, generating electricity and powering vehicles for up to a hundred years.

So energy companies are clamoring to drill. And they are getting rare support from their usual sparring partners. Environmentalists say using natural gas will help slow climate change because it burns more cleanly than coal and oil. Lawmakers hail the gas as a source of jobs. They also see it as a way to wean the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil.

But the relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks. It involves injecting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas.
(26 February 2011)

NG industry tried to get “Gasland” doc disqualified from Oscars

AP, San Francisco Examiner

The natural gas industry has spent months attacking the documentary “Gasland” as a deeply flawed piece of propaganda. After it was nominated for an Oscar, an industry-sponsored PR group asked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to reconsider the film’s eligibility.
(25 February 2011)

Lower second tier oil producers – Norway, Brazil, Iraq and Algeria

Heading Out, The Oil Drum
This current series of posts is aimed at an overview of the top oil producing nations, seeking to establish how the ranking of the countries is changing from the original table that EIA put out in 2008, After looking at the conditions governing the top six, this was followed last week when I looked at the condition of the following three (Mexico, UAE and Kuwait) in a little detail, but, having spent four posts on Veneuela in the recent past forebore going back there again.

(27 February 2011)

How the U.S. may win the battery race

Steve LeVine, Foreign Policy
Arpa-E — the federal agency that funds radical research into energy breakthroughs — says that six of the companies in which it’s invested have already begun receiving injections of private investment. They include solar and wind turbine companies, but as we’ve discussed, the most important discovery that any clean-energy research project could make would be a far cheaper and more powerful battery. Two of the companies singled out last week by Arpa-E are battery companies, and I got the chief technology officer of one of them — Sujeet Kumar, co-founder and president of California-based Envia Systems — on the phone. An Envia advance that could lower the cost of lithium-ion car batteries by a third has captured the attention of a car company sorely in need of just that product — General Motors, whose Volt at the moment costs $41,000. General Motors is now one of Envia’s newest investors.

Back in the middle part of the last decade, Kumar told me, he wondered why the United States leads the world in the production of battery-operated medical devices, but is nowhere when it comes to battery-operated consumer electronics. In 2007, Kumar decided to dive into part of the larger market and figure out how to break into advanced automotive batteries. He left his job as principal scientist for a California-based medical device company called Nanogram Devices.

One of the fastest ways to penetrate a technology is to find and license someone else’s unattached yet highly promising patent and build a company around it, and that’s the strategy that Kumar adopted. He began to scour the journals for what was out there, which led him to Argonne National Laboratory, outside Chicago.
(7 February 2011)

New book from WebHubbleTelescope: “The Oil ConunDRUM”

WebHubbleTelescope, The Oil ConunDRUM
I synthesized the last several years of blog content and placed it into The Oil ConunDRUM. This document turned into a treatise of topics relating to the role of disorder and entropy in the applied sciences. Volume 1 is mainly on the analysis of the decline in global oil production, while Volume 2 uses often related analysis in studying renewable sources of energy and how entropy plays a role in our environment and everyday life.

TOC essentially draws a line in the sand and a virtual stake in the ground. Everything I have written about and all the original analyses I have worked out on the blog has not fundamentally changed as I aggregated the information. As far as I can tell, no one else has picked up on the direction that I have taken, and nothing has come out of the research literature that comes close to unifying the set of topics as well as this does.

A couple of commenters have said I should publish the research work through peer-reviewed channels. That won’t happen because the project covers too much territory and compiling a massive tome such as this represented the best option I could think of. I invite all with an interest in the natural world to take a whack at digesting it.

This is a list of the novel areas of research, listed in what I consider a ranked order of originality:

1. The Oil Shock Model.
A data flow model of oil extraction and production which allows for perturbations.

2. The Dispersive Discovery Model.
A probabilistic model of resource discovery which accounts for technological advancement and a finite search volume.

3. The Reservoir Size Dispersive Aggregation Model.
A first-principles model that explains and describes the size distribution of oil reservoirs and fields around the world.

4. Solving the Reserve Growth “enigma”.
An application of dispersive discovery on a localized level which models the hyperbolic reserve growth characteristics observed.

5. Shocklets.
A kernel approach to characterizing production from individual fields.

6. Reserve Growth, Creaming Curve, and Size Distribution Linearization.
An obvious linearization of this family of curves, related to HL but more useful since it stems from first principles.

7. The Hubbert Peak Logistic Curve explained.
The Logistic curve is trivially explained by dispersive discovery with exponential technology advancement.

8. Laplace Transform Analysis of Dispersive Discovery.
Dispersion curves are solved by looking up the Laplace transform of the spatial uncertainty profile.

9. The Maximum Entropy Principle and the Entropic Dispersion Framework.
The generalized math framework applied to many models of disorder, natural or man-made. Explains the origin of the entroplet.

10. Gompertz Decline Model.
Exponentially increasing extraction rates lead to steep production decline.
(February 2011)
WebHubbleTelescope has been a contributor to Energy Bulletin and The Oil Drum. It is not easy for most of us to keep up with his math, but the problems he’s tackling will affect us all. -BA