10 November 2011

The Americas Want to be the World's Energy Suppliers

The US is #1 in natural gas production, Canada is #4. The US is #3 in oil production, and Canada is #6. Goldman Sachs says the US will be the World's largest oil producer by 2017. More here. In fact, North America holds the largest hydrocarbon resources in the world -- and technologists are determined to find ways of getting at them cleanly and economically.
But it is not just the US and Canada which are experiencing an oil & gas resurgence. It is claimed by many observers that the oil (and gas) map of the world is shifting to the western hemisphere.
Canada ranks third in proved oil reserves behind only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.[23] It has 175 billion barrels of proved reserves, consisting mostly of oil sands. Oil sands consist of very heavy oil mixed with clay and sand that requires separation of the impurities before capturing the oil. The process requires more energy than conventional oil production and therefore results in slightly higher carbon dioxide emissions. According to Daniel Yergin, the carbon dioxide emissions of oil sands production are only 5 to 15 percent higher than those resulting from the average barrel of oil consumed in the United States when the entire life cycle, well-to-wheel, is taken into consideration.[24]

Due in large part to oil sands production, Canada has recovered all the jobs it lost in the 2009 recession. Alberta’s oil and gas industry supports more than 271,000 direct jobs and hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, and financial services. The province has an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent compared to Canada’s national rate of 7.3 percent and the 9 percent unemployment rate for the United States.[25]

...Brazil has about 15 billion barrels of proved oil reserves in its sub-salt offshore fields. They lie in a 2 kilometer deep salt layer under the seabed that is estimated to hold up to 50 billion barrels of oil.[32] These ultra-deep deposits are drilled at up to three times the normal pressure for offshore oil. Estimates have production as much as 5 million barrels a day by 2020.[33] The sub-salt’s share of total domestic oil production in Brazil is expected to increase from 2 percent in 2011 to 40.5 percent in 2020.[34] New breakthroughs in technology made possible the identification and development of these resources.

...Another find in South American unconventional oil is in the Neuquen Province of Argentina where 927 million barrels of shale oil were recently discovered. YPF, Argentina’s largest oil and gas firm, has been exploring for shale oil since 2007. The field will roughly double the company’s reserves and helps put Argentina in third place behind the United States and China in terms of having the world’s third-largest probable reserves of shale oil, according to the Energy Information Administration.[35] The discovery is part of YPF’s five-year oil and gas exploration program in Argentina. It expects to invest about $2.9 billion in exploration and production during 2011, the most it has invested in at least 20 years. The company has outlined another 502-square-kilometer area that could contain additional oil and gas resources.[36]

...Estimates of oil resources are generated by geologists based on limited physical data, expectations about prices, and existing technology. But expectations and technology change and improve over time. The estimates of the Bakken are one good example. After all, the 2008 USGS estimate of recoverable oil was 25 times larger than the estimate a mere 13 years earlier.

In oil fields, only 35 to 40 percent of oil in place is initially produced. As oil prices increase and as technology changes over time, there are increased incentives to invest in production and technology to squeeze more oil from existing fields. Advances in technology enable companies to increase recovery from existing fields and to produce oil from unconventional sources that were uneconomic at lower prices. As long as the price of alternatives is higher than the price of producing the marginal barrel, it makes economic sense to produce more and to invest in technologies for finding and producing oil.[37]

And so it is with North American and South American oil. The newer finds in Canada, the United States, Brazil, and Argentina are now economic due to technological breakthroughs in drilling and the sustained higher price of crude that make unconventional sources of crude economic. These new finds can make the United States nearly independent of crude oil from the Middle East in the future. To do that, the United States must set policies conducive to their production and consumption in this country. _InstituteEnergyResearch
And then there is the giant Venezuelan Orinoco heavy oil basin, and the huge resources of the North American outer continental shelves. Huge resources of coal, kerogens, and gas hydrates are waiting for the appropriate technologies to be developed, to allow clean and economical utilisation.

The truth is, however, that if the Obama regime of energy starvation can be removed from its chokehold over US energy production, most of these vast resources will never need to be touched. Once Obama's obstructionist Nuclear Regulatory Commission can be made to do its job and certify safe, clean,advanced nuclear reactor designs, the US (and Canada by default) will be set for producing as much of the hydrocarbon resource as needed.

Advanced nuclear technology will make it possible to produce as much hydrocarbon as we want, in a very clean way -- and the same technology will also allow us not to produce any more fossil fuel than is absolutely necessary. As time goes by, less and less fossil fuel will be necessary, hence the growing awareness of the concept of "peak demand."

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2 Comments:

OpenID snakeoilbaron said...

Long after the current crop of politicians are out the frackophobes and tarsand tremblers will be doing everything they can to drag us into a windmill-and-wooden-shoe world.

It doesn't help when an energy company comes into an area--as one recently did in New Brunswick--and make enough enemies to set us back years. I'm not sure the company's head honcho didn't do it on purpose to sour the market that he didn't want to develope himself. The company started seismic testing inside city limits before the city in question was able to approve the tests. The honcho was said to have given one of our politicos the high hat when he called for an explanation.

Between climate alarmists and anti-capitalists who don't want companies getting at resources before a Marxist revolution comes about, North America is going to have to fight for every molecule of hydrocarbon under our feet.

Hopefully the fighting will only be legal and political but who knows. One day we might end up hiring Iraqi consultants to show private companies how they can protect their production and employees from attacks.

Thursday, 10 November, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Right. Another incident of bad public relations is the gas producer in Wyoming that has apparently contaminated a ground water aquifer with fluids from its gas well drilling and production.

And then there's the fear of earthquakes being caused by deep drilling and fluid injection into the Earth.

The fear of radioactivity has been particularly blown out of proportion.

You can tell scary bedtime stories about almost anything you choose. Modern, dumbed-down populations appear to be more and more easily led by fearful and emotional narratives, without insisting on documentable facts or rational argument.

And so isolated and containable incidents become inflated into ubiquitous deadly monsters in every closet and under every bed.

Civilisation is not that easy to keep in balance. Take away a civilisation's abundant energy and the balancing act is virtually impossible.

Perhaps that is the plan?

Friday, 11 November, 2011  

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