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Energy - Jan 6

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Canadian crude oil production to increase 3300% by 2100

Andrew Leach, Rescuing the frog
I’ve read a lot of wild exaggerations in the debate surrounding the oilsands, and specifically around the Keystone XL pipeline, but I think this study from the Center for Global Development takes the cake. The study, in effect, equates 21% of the effects of climate change due to projected global emissions between now and 2100 to oilsands development. No, really – here’s the direct quote:

The Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board currently estimates the deposit’s potential yield at 1,804 billion barrels of crude oil (AERCB 2011). For this analysis, I assume that the entire deposit will be mined and the extracted crude oil burned by 2100. Using standard conversion factors, full combustion would produce an atmospheric release of 209 gigatons of carbon, which would in turn raise the atmospheric CO2 concentration by 99 parts per million.2 This is 21.3 percent of scenario A2’s projected global increase of 464 ppm by 2100.

So, let’s put some of these numbers into perspective. In order to extract and burn 1.8 trillion barrels of oil between now and 2100, you’d need average production of 54 million barrels per day. That’s more than the combined production of OPEC, Russia, Canada, the US, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. It’s 6 times current Saudi Arabian production. Current Canadian oilsands production is 1.7 million barrels per day. Despite this, somehow the authors feel comfortable assuming, for the sake of illustration, that Canadian production might average 3300% above today’s levels between now and 2100 – a sustained rate of annual production growth of 25.2% per year...
(3 January 2012)


Burning Oil to Keep Cool: The Hidden Energy Crisis in Saudi Arabia (report)

Glada Lahn and Paul Stevens, Chatham House
A new report from Chatham House.

  • Domestic energy demand growth in Saudi Arabia is cause for international concern. If it continues at the current rate, it could jeopardize the country's ability to stabilize world oil markets.
  • Given Saudi Arabia's level of dependence on oil revenues, excessive consumption will cause economic and social pressures long before oil exports end – within a decade if nothing changes.
  • Current policies are not enough. Planned additions of renewable power supply would help maintain the fiscal balance for an additional two to three years; given the lead times nuclear power would have little or no impact.
  • Huge economic, social and environmental gains from energy conservation are possible in Saudi Arabia but the long period of low prices and the bureaucratic structure of the state present several challenges to implementing effective pricing policy and regulatory measures.
  • Fear of confronting these challenges has deterred meaningful government action in the past. However, some immediate, targeted investments could produce effective results even in the absence of price reforms.
  • Raising prices is politically difficult but international experience can help in preparing society through a range of efficiency, educational and infrastructure adaptation measures to smooth the transition. This must be done within a package of measures that increase private-sector employment for Saudi nationals.

Download report
(3 January 2012)
See commentary from Sharon Astyk.


A perilous and crucial quest - video interview with Daniel Yergin

The Economist
The author and policy advisor on peak oil, shale gas and how climate change will impact where people get their energy from.
View video
(5 January 2012)
The interviewer isn't exactly pushing Yergin here, a soft touch interview if ever there was one. - SO


Brazil, short of biofuel, can't open spigot to US

Inae Riveras, Reuters
For three decades, the U.S. government sought to protect American corn farmers and ethanol makers from a feared flood of Brazilian imports by imposing a tariff that had the South American country crying foul.

But as the contentious tax finally expires at year-end, American farmers' fears of being swamped by sugar-based tropical biofuel seem unfounded. With Brazil's ethanol industry struggling to meet booming local demand, it's U.S. producers instead who are shipping millions of gallons to the south.

Three factors have converged to push Brazil's ethanol distilleries to the limit. Sugarcane production fell this year for the first time in a decade, reducing supplies; global demand for sugar has remained strong; and domestic motor-fuel demand has surged, straining local gasoline and ethanol supply.

Brazilian ethanol demand outstrips supply by nearly 25 percent, according to Reuters and industry data. It may take more than two years for new investment to correct the imbalance, delaying Brazil's predicted emergence as a "biofuel Saudi Arabia"...
(30 December 2011)

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