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The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

(OP)
thread730-100534: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?
Given probable economy and culture in the U.S., energy self sufficiency seems very unlikely.

Nevertheless, a multi-modal development is technically possible -- This would include not only the well publicized solar and wind but also [off the top of my head] further tech. in exploration and production of crude and liquids, clean burn for coal [double fluidized bed],
ocean currents, well engineered/constructed nuclear, high temp. superconductor transmission system.......

All

providing residential and commercial power. The latter to include a national very high speed 'rail' [maglev] which I believe Argonne National Lab determined would be profitable [or break-even] in studies performed during the 1990s. People would not give up their autos but discover maglev travel between major cities to be more comfortable and very much faster.

Articulation of concentrated market areas would further assist in offsetting costs [or improving net gain].

Consider as well that the above would represent a form of 're-industrialization' for this country.

Can't be afforded? The austerity = recovery arguments find little support, just as do wasteful expenditures.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

I thought the most recent big deal regarding potential energy self sufficiency of North America (not necessarily strictly USA as I recall) was the role fracking is playing and could continue to play in increasing recoverable reserves?

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RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

The three largest oil fields ever discovered in the U.S. are the Baaken Shale, the Eagle Ford Shale, and the Cline Shale. Since the Baaken first went on production our imports have gone from 70% of usage to 32% of usage and the Cline is just starting to com on line (you can't get a hotel room in Midland or Odessa, TX because of the development activity.

If the EPA, DOE (energy, not education) and Congress would pull their heads out of each other's asses we could easily reach energy independence in the next 5 years and be a net exporter shortly after that. The role of the campy "renewables" is precisely a highly visible side show that will suck more money and energy from the economy than they will ever give back. The role of coal will continue to decline as a percent of total because no one is building new coal plants. Gas-to-liquids has a role because of the huge shale gas plays that are languishing due to the low gas price. If Congress would let the market work (repeal the ban on exporting oil), the EPA would follow the law (they are purposely delaying a number of important projects), and if we could just de-politize this issue, we would have a balanced budget by 2020. What is actually happening? Bubpkiss. The current administration is anti-Oil&Gas, has always been, will always be. If these huge oil finds had been on federal surface we would still be importing 70% of our oil.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Since it appears that the US may soon become a sustainable net exporter of oil perhaps we should also consider retaining this oil for domestic use only.

http://wizbangblog.com/2013/05/10/the-united-state...

From reading the above I guess one could ask, if we're able to EXPORT more oil than we're importing, why in the hell are we still importing any oil whatsoever? Or at least, why haven't we decreased what we are importing even more than we have already? Is there some sort of price difference here where a barrel of domestically produced oil can be sold on the international market for MORE than it takes to purchase a barrel of foreign oil? Or are we simply seeing what could be described as 'momentum' in the market place which will eventually dampen out to where the amount of imports really does drop to near zero?

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

John - a lot of the issue in North American energy independence comes down to three things: location, location, location. There oil is not where the refineries are, and the refineries are generally located where the people are, in order to minimize transportation costs of finished products. So, that means that we need much more in the way of pipelines.

Right now, 500,000 bpd are moving from the Bakken via rail.

It's not just the international price vs domestic price (Brent vs WTI), but you also have to include the transportation costs. There may be cases where it is more cost-effective to import overseas oil on the east coast than transport it from Cushing, OK/Chicago/etc.

In addition to what zdas04 mentioned, there is huge potential in the oil sands, too. That could easily add another 1-2 million bpd of North American production in 5-10 years, IF the oil could get to market.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Additionally I understand the different 'grades' of oil & what the refineries are set up to refine etc. can have an impact - combined with the US vehicles tending to favor gasoline/petrol rather than diesel.

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RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

(OP)
KENAT - Production decline rates are high, requiring progressively increased drilling. The attached from Econbrowser covers some of this:

December 18, 2012
Future production from U.S. shale or tight oil
http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2012/12/future...

Would also like to note that 'fracking' - in the form of using nitro to 'shoot' a well - began during the 19th century while 'acidizing' limestone formations also has some history [since the late 20's - mid 30's]. Recent/current anti-fracking may be more political than green.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Quote (ARTURO8)


Recent/current anti-fracking may be more political than green.

There's also the issue of scale/scope and the fact that there's less un- or lightly-populated areas today as there was back in the 19th or early 20th centuries. In other words, whatever amount of 'fracking' was going on back then, it was NOT having a noticeable impact (perceived or otherwise) on anyone.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Oh so many issues. First, every refinery is built to address a specific range of components in a crude stream (and every crude oil is different). So a refinery that was built to process WTI may have difficulty with some of the components in the Eagle Ford, but there may be a refinery in Aberdeen or Egypt or Trinidad that can take the Eagle Ford crude without modifying facilities. Before the 1970's this happened with great regularity. Every crude shipper would look at the components of the next shipload of crude and pick the refinery that was best able to process it and that had the best capacity availability. It was a global juggling act that worked good enough. When Jimmy Carter pushed through legislation to ban exports, these jugglers had to take the U.S. out of the mix to the detriment of the U.S. economy.

"Saving it for domestic use" is definite recipe for dropping the bottom out of the U.S. liquid fuel market. You might consider that a good thing, but at wellhead prices under $70/bbl (call it $2.08/gallon of motor fuel at the wellhead, which works out to around $3.80/gallon at the pump) will stop drilling activities just like $2/MSCF stopped gas drilling. With gas drilling largely stopped since 2008, the price has climbed back to $3.50/MSCF, but at $3.50 drilling for gas is still at historic lows. Drilling the expensive shale wells is costly and the industry needs about $6/MSCF or $70/bbl for drilling to make sense. If we keep the legislative ban on oil exports and the EPA refusal to sign off on permits for LNG plants for gas exports I see the wellhead prices drop to unsustainable levels and another mass exodus of people from the industry like happened in 1986 and 2008. Net result is long term higher prices after a brief period of lower prices.

Building a refinery is a multi-billion dollar undertaking and it has been decades since anyone was able to pull it off in the U.S. (mostly because of the export embargo, but also because the EPA rejects all such proposals). The refineries are getting really old and tired, most were build prior to WWI and the updates over the last century have been band-aides. Places like BP's Texas City Refinery are often in the news, generally because kit that was designed with an expected 50 year life is now in its eighth or ninth decade.

As to Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation there has never been a documented case of a frac impacting an aquifer. Never. The garbage in Josh Fox's version of Ralph Nader piece of fiction called "Unsafe at any Speed" which use fabricated data to kill the Chevy Corvair, Josh's Gasland fiction was a propaganda piece aimed at making Josh Fox famous. The water wells that he featured so prominently as being damaged by Cabot Oil were later tested by the EPA (not a noticeably pro-industry organization) and found to meet all the requirements for drinking water--certainly no "wepons grade Uranium" which is a material that requires extensive processing from any natural ore source and is not used in any Oil & Gas operation. Either Josh Fox or the sleazy homeowner invented the whole thing, and when the EPA asked the homeowner for a copy of the water analysis it was never produced. He made the whole thing up. As to water burning, there is a town in Louisiana that drilled a water well in the 1800's and hit gas. They built a swimming pool on the site and lit the gas, ever since then they have had a unique community resource. Water wells have included methane all over the world since the first water well was drilled.

Further, Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation has been done within the city of Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles (see Huntington Beach 1920's for some fun pictures, those wells were not frac'd, but within a couple of decades their offsets were), Denver, Salt Lake City (they actually had an offshore platform in the Great Salt Lake that was hydraulically fractured), and many more communities. It is safe. It is mature technology. The only thing different about the Shale stimulations is that due to the length of exposed pay, they have to do more stages than has been done in the past. Each stage is exactly what we've been doing for 70 years.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

A fair number of those Huntington Beach wells were still there (at least the ones on solid ground) in 1977 when I visited SoCal for the first time. Being from Michigan, seeing those wells strung along a sandy beach with only PCH between them and the surf was sort of shocking. Not that we didn't have oil wells in Michigan, just that they were always just one or two stuck out in the woods or near the edge of a farmers field. Granted, I'd seen big oil fields in Texas and Oklahoma but then they looked exactly like you'd expect them to, not adjacent to a surfing beach. But then there's that oil well on the campus of Beverly Hills high school:



Of course they've dressed it up a bit winky smile

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

There are wells offshore Long Beach that have sheet metal palm trees on the superstructure. Which is funny because if you turn the other way you see the eyesore that Signal Hill has always been (when I was about 12 I used to ride my bike in amongst the pump jacks on Signal Hill so that we could get a long downhill ride back to Lakewood, today they likely make local kids sign a JSA before riding up there).

I worked on a well within the city limits of Traverse City, MI that was drilled (and frac'ed) in the 1970's. There are nearly 500,000 gas wells and a few more oil wells than that. Call it a million wells in the U.S. Add 100,000 in Canada and about the same in Mexico. Every one of them was at least considered for fracture stimulation and something over 80% of them were subjected to that treatment. Call it a million frac jobs in North America. Not all achieved their stated objectives, but all were done with a high degree of safety for the public and public resources like water wells.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Another thing about "Saving it for domestic use" - in the early 1980's, Canada tried something like that, called the National Energy Program. It depressed the price of oil and gas (in Canada's west) for the benefit of the majority of users in Canada's East. It devastated the oil and gas industry. Almost 35 years on now, and the federal political party that brought that in is still a swear-word around Western Canada - that's how deep the hurt and damage was.

Right now, Western Canada would desperately love to export to someone other than the US (due to the rise in domestic production, and the significant discount for heavy oil), but can't get to a deep-water port.

Permitting LNG exports in the US would almost immediately raise the price from the levels David mention to the world price of near $12. Wouldn't a higher price for a resource bring in more government revenue?

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Yea, I sailed a 'Hobie' cat (actually someone else was doing the 'sailing', I was just hanging on for dear life) out around one of those camouflaged 'oil islands' in Long Beach Harbor while on that 1977 trip, just to find out exactly what they were (they looked so beautiful at night, all lit up, that we just had to see what they really were):

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

(OP)
JRBaker,

Very nice and certainly distinct from any wells -sputter and rotary- that I've had the chance to meet. Rather than a 'Hobie' cat and bay, a '49 Power Wagon and mud was always fun but I'm sure there are big 'dog house' differences,,,undoubtedly 'payback' for my years on the mining side.

David Simpson,

Not quite the same but --

"I know not any thing more pleasant, or
more instructive, than to compare
experience with expectation, or to register
from time to time the difference between
idea and reality. It is by this kind of
observation that we grow daily less liable to
be disappointed."
--Samuel Johnson: Letter to Bennet
Langton

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

I read recently there were two refineries being built in I think North Dekota, because of the amount of cruide, and the shortage of Desel fuel. Although small, they are new refineries.

Maglav is someones pipe dream, because it then must compete with the airlines. I expect it can compete on a limited scale, by offering thing the airlines don't. Example look at Amtrack's autotrain.
Now that TSA wants to screen Amtrack's passangers, any expecation of fewer hassels by taking a Maglav will be quickly be gone.
So what else can they offer to compete with airlines and Amtrack?

I don't know guys about the colorful work over rigs. Most of the newer wells I saw growing up, had no tall structures. This maybe different for off shore, but land based shoulden't have tall structures that remain after the well has played out. Now let me tell you my complaint about wind power.

No doubt solar power will come down in cost, but it will reach a saturation point, like wind, with balancing generation. The key to both of these technologys is either faster reserves (fast rampling fossel plants) or energy storage with a lower cost, and higher efficency.

Preventing the export of any fuels is a short sighted power play that many small minded people dictators or dictator wantabes have. The solution is to bring these problems to the voters to decide. No doubt we need a better governance.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

You are right, the first refinery permitted since 1976 has broken ground outside of Dickenson, ND. It will process 8,000 bbl/day of the 850,000 bbl/day produced in ND, cost estimate $300 million, and has been in the permitting process for a decade, construction is expected to be complete in 2015. I haven't been able to find a second new refinery that has broken ground (the articles I just read said that this new refinery will be ND's second, the other is the Mandan Refinery which takes in 60,000 bbl/day). There are 2 other refinery projects in the permitting pipeline, but the track record has been that 1 project in 25 clears all the hurdles to actually get a permit. The one that recently broke ground had the strong backing of both ND Senators and a Congressman who applied a lot of pressure on the EPA and DOE.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

To paraphrase Milton Friedman, "As long as other countries are willing to trade such a useful commodity as oil for little bits of green paper, we should be glad to oblige them".

"On the human scale, the laws of Newtonian Physics are non-negotiable"

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

@JRB ... hiding in plain sight ? ostentatious camouflage ?

Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Quote (cranky108)


No doubt solar power will come down in cost, but it will reach a saturation point, like wind, with balancing generation. The key to both of these technologys is either faster reserves (fast rampling fossel plants) or energy storage with a lower cost, and higher efficency.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/10-billion-opportuni...

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

We keep trying to make a cart horse pull the train. The cart horse does what it does really well, pulls a small load over relatively short distances at fairly low rates of speed. Hook it to a train and the load is too high. Hook ten thousand of them to the train and the speed is too slow and the range is too short (to say nothing about slipping in the droppings).

Wind and solar are really great cart horses. Use them in places where the grid power is unreliable or too expensive to acquire at all. Fantastic. Use them to replace a Giga-Watt Scale generator station and they don't do so well. Sometimes it is night. Sometimes it is cloudy. Sometimes it is calm. For a wellsite, I plan on several 24 hour days in a row with no charging when I'm sizing batteries for a wind or solar application. Can you do that with GW scale load requirements? No one has yet, but maybe the companies in the WSJ article above will figure it out. Until they do, you have to build the GW scale plant and keep it on hot standby for calm days or cloudy days. That works out to be a terrible use of capital, and it actually puts more crap into the air than the GW scale plant would emit if it could run in its sweet spot instead of always in start-up mode.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

dwallace1971 stated:

To paraphrase Milton Friedman, "As long as other countries are willing to trade such a useful commodity as oil for little bits of green paper, we should be glad to oblige them".

I think from the perspective of this dicussion that is a very relevant point. I do admit, however, that it landed my mind with a different view as well. As I understand the paraphrase, the implication is that the oil merchants are giving us a tangible resource with real value for a piece of paper that may or may not be backed with equal value. The oil merchant simply has to "trust us" that value is behind that piece of paper.

Now Milton Friedman probably had more economics knowledge in his little finger than resides in my entire brain, but I see this from his comment. That little piece of paper has value ONLY because the recipient believes it does, and if it turns out that the value really isn't there (or is subject to the whims of the issuer, which is a private institution, the deliberately mis-named Federal Reserve) then what does that tell us in the United States who trust those little pieces of paper for our own use?

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

And what would Milton Friedman say about solar and wind power? Probally something like why are you wasting your money with them, when you have an inexpencive source of fossel generation.

Agreed that solar power works well as a car port, or so I don't have to replace the batteries in my calculator, but is far too expencive for most applications.

Or how about solar powered trees, that can be harvested and used to heat our homes (at least it looks nice). It's now an under utilized fuel, sort of like the way coal is going.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

""and it actually puts more crap into the air than the GW scale plant would emit if it could run in its sweet spot instead of always in start-up mode. ""

How does a conventional plant emit more pollution running at light load than in its 'sweet spot'



RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

These plants are optimized to run at full load. Their burners are optimized for steady-state 100% load. Anything less than that results in higher NOx, CO, particulates, etc. Except for CO2, a conventional plant will emit about as much of the above-noted pollution in the first hour of operation as it would in a month's steady-state operation. If it is constantly kept in that first-hour state, then the total pollution goes up.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Exactly TGS4. It just keeps amazing me that Engineers will continue to apply steady state assumptions to transient behavior. A cold catalyst doesn't catalyze much.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Besides a partial loaded plant, except for fuel, costs the same to run as a fully loaded plant. You don't reduce personel, interest, or other accounting expences because it is partly loaded. Granted it uses less fuel, and may have fewer auxiluries operating, but the base cost of the plant dosen't change. I would expand that cycling a large plant actually adds to the maintenance cost because of metals expanding and contracting causes them to break.

It's simular to your car, in that commuting a short distance never lets you catlitic converter get hot enough to be able to convert anything. Also the start/stop cycling of your can makes the metal fatigue, which is why they say highway miles are not as hard on you car as city miles.

I also hear that startups of peaking plants are harder on the plants then if they ran all the time, but only because of the fuel cost they are shut down when not needed.

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Really, a plant running at a constant 40% produces more pollution than at constant 100% ??

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

Yes. If you define pollution as NOx, CO, particulates, etc. Maybe less CO2. Even sulphur scrubbers are less efficient at partial capacity.

And, those peaking plants never run at 40% constantly, they are usually either on or off.

I really don't envy the electrical system operators - they have to deal with large fluctuations of load and production, and due to the virtually instantaneous nature of electrical power, it's quite the balancing act.

(As an aside about running at less-than-design rates - there was a heavy oil upgrader that ran at between 40% and 60% of it's nameplate rate because the supporting oil field didn't produce. In less than a year, there were more corrosion issues than expected over the 30-year life of the plant. In some cases, there were chemical species causing corrosion that had only ever been hypothesized to exist - and had not yet been found because the turn-down ratio for this facility was never imagined in the original design. Some process plants may have a turn-down ratio of 85%, maybe a little less, but they are primarily designed to operate in the 95-105% of nameplate throughput. Running at 40% corroded holes in thick, supposedly corrosion-resistant material, because the chemical species involved were never anticipated by the design team.)

RE: The USA: energy self sufficiency - political myth or reality?

In a typical cyclonic burner plant with lower fuel throughput, either by operating each burner at lower levels or turning some of them off, the cyclone action is not as great, and the fuel/air mixing is not as great, and therefore the burn tempeture can be lower, which can cause more NOx, as well as higher CO levels, and more unburent fuel going into the scrubbers which can cause additional fowling of the scrubbers. There is a simular problem with plants that use the same design, but burn gas, in that CO and NOx go up with reduced fuel throughput.

In the world of burner technology, there is a sweet spot where NOx and CO production is lower, and this is designed to be at the fully loaded operating point.

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