Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Canadian Oil Sands: More Oil Than Saudi Arabia?

Canada's oil sands hold an estimated 170 billion barrels of oil that can be recovered with existing technology and as much as 1.7 trillion barrels -- more than five times the size of Saudi Arabia's reserves -- that could be produced with the use of new methods that are being developed.

As the only non-OPEC source with the capability for large production growth during the next several years, oil sands have the potential to reduce the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' revenues, weakening the cartel and those members that often undertake policies hostile to U.S. interests.

By getting more of their oil from Canada, refineries in the Midwest are moving from being at the back of the crude oil supply line to the front. With these secure supplies, Midwest refineries are not as vulnerable to supply disruptions from overseas producers or hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

So who would object to Canadian oil sands?

Eenvironmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club are trying to shut down Canadian oil sands production and block the expansion of refineries here in the U.S.

If the environmental groups truly cared about achieving results in their battle against global warming, they would better focus their energy on the construction of scores of power plants in rapidly developing economies like China and India that account for most of the increase in the world's carbon emissions. These developments pose the real global environmental danger, not the Canadian oil sands.

~From my editorial in today's Detroit News

33 Comments:

At 6/23/2009 8:32 AM, Blogger fboness said...

Canada can sell oil to the U.S. or Canada can build a pipeline to British Columbia and send their oil to China. I doubt that it makes any difference to them.

 
At 6/23/2009 8:50 AM, Blogger Paul said...

But what's the potential flow rate for the oil sands? For example, 1.7 trillion barrels doesn't mean much to the global supply if it were being sucked out by a single straw.

 
At 6/23/2009 9:40 AM, Blogger fboness said...

Publicly available data on current production and planned production ahows that no soda straws are involved.

 
At 6/23/2009 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are thinking about energy, post on US natural gas deposits...thanks to recent shale gas exploitation, we are set for decades and decades.....plug in Haynesville...it is amazing....

==Benjamin

 
At 6/23/2009 10:52 AM, Blogger misterjosh said...

And don't forget the shale itself under the western states. Much of the stuff in the ground can be converted to usable liquid petroleum for something like $50 per barrel. If oil prices skyrocket again, that's going to be profitable.

I kinda don't mind buying Saudi oil while it's cheap, and something tells me that anything less than $100 per barrel is cheap.

 
At 6/23/2009 10:54 AM, Blogger 1 said...

Why bother about Canada?

Just consider what's in the ground domestically...

From the Wyoming Tribune dated June 2, 2009: Wyo gets oil shale project

(skip)

An estimated 2.6 trillion barrels of in-place oil -- some 1.5 trillion barrels of it considered recoverable -- saturate the Green River Basin's hard-rock subterrain, according to BLM estimates.

That represents a volume about 20 times greater than the nation's estimated total of 116 billion barrels in conventional oil reserves.
...

Then there are the Bakken Reserves in North Dakota...

Record additions pushed US gas reserves to 31-year peak in 2007, EIA says

But we have a problem...

We elected socialist, parasitic, idiots into national office...

From the Washington Times: Obama blocks offshore drilling

 
At 6/23/2009 11:05 AM, Blogger rufus said...

Just to be clear what we're talking about. Oil Sands

 
At 6/23/2009 11:08 AM, Blogger rufus said...

And, in case you're wondering Oil Shale is just about as bad. I don't think the Good Folks of Colorado, and Wyoming are going to go for it.

Actually, I know they're not because they don't have the water (it's incredibly water-intensive.)

 
At 6/23/2009 11:10 AM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

misterjosh-
Maybe too soon to make predictions, but abundant natural gas supplies (I mean we have a century if the stuff, and we are finding lots more) could place a ceiling on oil prices.
Cars,trucks can run on CNG.
Sure, there some some obstacles, but none too major.
One thing is for sure: We don't no any effing Mideast oil.

 
At 6/23/2009 11:16 AM, Blogger KauaiMark said...

I'm all for cleaning up oil polluted lands and recycling it into useful, profitable product(s)...

JMHO

 
At 6/23/2009 11:16 AM, Blogger Robert Miller said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6/23/2009 11:20 AM, Blogger 1 said...

"I don't think the Good Folks of Colorado, and Wyoming are going to go for it"...

Gotta love that source, the Enviornmental Defence Fund fools are really on top of their game...

Thanks rufus, I needed a chuckle...

 
At 6/23/2009 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed he would break America's addiction to "dirty, dwindling, and dangerously expensive" oil if he is elected U.S. president -- and one of his first targets might well be Canada's oil sands.

A senior adviser to Mr. Obama's campaign told reporters it's an "open question" whether oil produced from northern Alberta's oilsands fits with the Democratic candidate's plan to shift the U.S. sharply away from consumption of carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

"If it turns out that those technologies don't advance . . . and the only way to produce those resources would be at a significant penalty to climate change, then we don't believe that those resources are going to be part of the long-term, are going to play a growing role in the long-term future," said Jason Grumet, Mr. Obama's senior energy adviser.

The remarks amount to a shot across the bow of Alberta's oil sands industry, which is planning to boost production from 1.3 million barrels a day to 3.5 million barrels over the next decade.

The industry has come under sustained attack from U.S. environmentalists ...

National Post

 
At 6/23/2009 1:31 PM, Blogger rufus said...

Well, Robert, and 1, let's review the bidding.

First, the "you're a Socialist," ad hom. I'm Not a Socialist. I'm an Ex-Marine who's never voted Democratic (or, Socialist) in my life.

It's just that I've done something you haven't. I've studied the situation. Getting Kerogen (that's what you get from "oil" shale is a Very, Very water-intensive process. Water is Very dear in the West. That's just a Fact.

Kerogen mining in E Europe (where it has been done to a small extent) has been a very dirty, polluting business. Maybe it can be cleaned up a bit, but no one has, yet. It's very unlikely our future is in getting "oil from rocks." Nat Gas May be a different story.

Secondly, I have made zillions of posts around the internet about ethanol. I'm a Strong Ethanol supporter. I'm, also, beginning to think that we'll do more with electricity, by way of wind, and solar, and some other renewable/sustainable sources than we realize at present.

I support Nuclear, and Coal. I just don't support pipe dreams, and environmentally devastating trainwrecks.

 
At 6/23/2009 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I know they're not because they don't have the water (it's incredibly water-intensive.)

Like so many things you "know", this turns out to be false as well.

There are several techniques currently being used which heat the bitumen in place, allowing it to pool and then pumping it to the surface. The water used in this process is then recycled and used again.

Here's a LINK to an article which explains one of these techniques.

Technologies to increase the production of existing wells has nearly doubled recoverable reserves in the last 10 years. It will only get better.

 
At 6/23/2009 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oil fields that are "played out" may still yield billions of cubic feet of natural gas.

The researchers found that the groundbreaking process—known as anaerobic hydrocarbon metabolism—can be used to stimulate methane gas production from older, more mature oil reservoirs like those in Oklahoma.

The OU researchers found that they can use their organisms to convert hydrocarbons in oil reservoirs to natural gas. “Because two-thirds of U.S. oil is still in place, we can use these organisms to convert residual hydrocarbons into natural gas and create a new source of domestic energy. The concept of anaerobic metabolism is an innovative process and the OU initiative is the only one of its kind in the United States at the present time. We are also experimenting with shales and other unconventional reservoirs.”

Science Daily

Techniques, like these, may allow us to exploit shale oil deposits without expensive mining and fracturing.

 
At 6/23/2009 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ramshackle collection of wellheads and electric cables hidden in a pine-covered draw west of Rifle doesn't look like much now, but until three years ago it was the home of the oil industry's equivalent of the Manhattan Project.

Over five years here, Shell Oil conducted a series of secretive experiments that have the potential to blow open the status quo of North American oil production, unlocking the vast reserves of oil shale that underlie Colorado's Western Slope.

Early attempts failed miserably. But beginning in 2002, Shell drilled a honeycombed series of wells, then lowered in giant heating elements, raising the temperature of the shale to 650 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 months. Out flowed an abundance of high-quality shale oil.

"It was our 'eureka' moment," said Tracy Boyd, a spokesman for Shell, smiling as he showed off the historic spot. "Now we know we have a technology that works."

Denver Post

 
At 6/23/2009 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democrats vote to stop shale oil production

The Senate Appropriations Committee today narrowly defeated Sen. Wayne Allard's attempt to end a moratorium related to oil shale development in Colorado. . . .

The moratorium prevents the Department of Interior from issuing regulations so that oil companies can move forward on oil-shale projects in Colorado and Utah. Allard said the moratorium has left uncertainties at a time when companies need to move forward and in the long term make the United States more energy independent.

"If we are really serious about reducing pain at the pump, this is a vote that would make a difference in people's lives," Allard argued.

But in a 14-15 vote, the committee spilt strictly on party lines and rejected the amendment.

Rocky Moutain News

 
At 6/23/2009 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ScienceDaily (Jan. 26, 2008) — Natural gas reservoirs in Michigan’s Antrim Shale are providing new information about global warming and the Earth’s climate history, according to a recent study by Steven Petsch, a geoscientist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The study is also good news for energy companies hoping to make natural gas a renewable resource.

Petsch found that carbon-hungry bacteria trapped deep in the rock beneath ice sheets produced the gas during the ice age, as glaciers advanced and retreated over Michigan. “Bacteria digested the carbon in the rocks and made large amounts of natural gas in a relatively short time, tens of thousands of years instead of millions,” says Petsch. “This suggests that it may be possible to seed carbon-rich environments with bacteria to create natural gas reservoirs.”

The study also helps explain high levels of methane in the atmosphere that occurred between ice ages, a trend recorded in ice cores taken from Greenland and Antarctica. “When the ice sheets retreated, it was like uncapping a soda bottle,” says Petsch. “Natural gas, which is mostly methane, was released from the shale into the atmosphere.”

Science Daily

 
At 6/23/2009 2:22 PM, Blogger rufus said...

Well, anon, ol bud, at least I can read. My comment on water intensity was in reference to oil shale mining, not tar sands.

BTW, you do realize that every article you put up was about a technology (not necessarily new) that has never been utilized commercially, right?

Some would say these technologies fall into the "wouldn't it be nice," dept.

 
At 6/23/2009 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, anon, ol bud, at least I can read. My comment on water intensity was in reference to oil shale mining, not tar sands.

Dufus,

If you could read, you would have noticed that the same technique is being used for oil sands and shale oil deposits.

In fact, these techniques, and others, are being used commercially in Canada. The problem with using them in the western U.S. is that the Democrats have put huge streches of land off limits.

Oil companies would have to make large capital investments and if access to shale bearing rock is going to be severely restricted they just will not do it.

The point is that the potential of these reserves could be realized if the politicians would simply get out of the way.

 
At 6/23/2009 2:49 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

rufus,
I really enjoyed reading the link to the Tar Sands report. Certainly a lot of effort has gone into presenting a pretty bad picture of that industry. I'm not sure where your stance is, so I'm not writing the rest of this as an attack. It's simply what came to mind as I was reading it.

The problem that I have with these groups is that what their proposal will do is effectively make that industry uneconomic. Despite Exxon's record-breaking profits in recent years, extractive industries are not as profitable as people believe. Yes, you can make money on it, but you can also lose a lot of money very quickly. It is capitally intensive and big investments are difficult to justify when the price and legal risks are high.

Reports like that one don't fully address what the impacts of their proposal are. It would mean millions of lost revenue for that region, lost jobs, plummeting housing values, in short economic disaster for that area. Private sector businesses can't instantly replace that kind of an industry with something green. How do you fix that? Government can't be the solution forever.

Climate change might become a problem eventually, but killing off large sectors of an economy will definitely create big problems right now. It's just like hospital triage, you have to attend to the most immediate and critical issues (jobs, economic growth) first and address the long-term issues when the economy is healthy enough to do so.

 
At 6/23/2009 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a story on the Petrobank Energy rollout.

 
At 6/23/2009 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Secondly, I have made zillions of posts around the internet about ethanol. I'm a Strong Ethanol supporter.


The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to make an important and far-reaching decision this year that will affect more than 500 million gasoline engines powering everything from large pickups to family cars to lawn mowers: whether to grant the ethanol industry’s request to raise the maximum amount of ethanol that can be added to gasoline.

That request has engine manufacturers and consumer advocates worried about possible damage, service station owners in a tizzy over the financial and legal implications and a leading petroleum industry group saying the move is unwise and premature.

[...]

Although the request went largely unnoticed by the public, it got the attention of anyone who makes or sells gasoline engines, as well as some environmentalists and consumer advocates.

Approving E15 would have a huge impact on consumers, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, and could cause problems including the voiding of car warranties. “There’s a lot to worry about,” he said. “All a consumer has to do is look at the fuels section of the owner’s manual, which says that the use of fuel above 10 percent ethanol may result in denial of warranty claims.”

New York Times

 
At 6/23/2009 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stress Testing Biofuels: How the Game Was Rigged

Last week, while the financial world was obsessing over stress tests for fragile banks, the environmental and agricultural worlds were watching the results of the Obama Administration's stress tests for renewable fuels. An outgrowth of the 2007 energy bill, the tests were supposed to document whether corn ethanol and other biofuels designed to replace fossil fuels would accelerate or alleviate global warming overall. But like the much-criticized bank checkups, these stress tests don't seem particularly stressful.

The draft conclusions announced by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Lisa Jackson were that cellulosic ethanol and other next-generation renewables will dramatically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions over their entire life cycle, but that in some scenarios, corn ethanol (as well as lesser-used soy biodiesel) can produce even more emissions than gasoline. Some environmentalists and journalists have portrayed this as a courageous rebuke to the powerful agro-fuels lobby, while some advocates for farmers have complained that the stress tests were too tough. At a hearing after the announcement, House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, accused the EPA of attacking corn and soybean farmers. "You're going to kill off the biofuels industry before it even gets started," Peterson said. "You are in bed with the oil industry!" (View 10 next-generation green technologies.)

It's hard to see how. Earlier studies exposed corn ethanol as a carbon catastrophe; the EPA had to use extremely generous assumptions to produce scenarios in which it's even remotely attractive as a fuel alternative. In any case, the heavily subsidized corn-ethanol industries won't really be penalized for promoting deforestation and accelerating global warming; Congress exempted its existing plants from any consequences in the 2007 law requiring the stress tests.

The Energy Tribune

 
At 6/23/2009 3:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why Biofuels Are the Rainforest's Worst Enemy

With governments and consumers scrambling for alternatives to fossil fuel, worldwide demand for biofuels has gone through the roof; in Europe, where more than half of all automobiles run on diesel, consumption of biodiesel is set to triple by 2010. US subsidies for biofuels, mostly ethanol, will add up to $92 billion between 2006 and 2012, and producers in developing countries like Indonesia are often eligible for millions of dollars in development money from the World Bank.

But amid the hype, problems have emerged. Biodiesel emits less than one-quarter the carbon of regular diesel once it’s burned. But when production—and the destruction of ecosystems in the developing countries where most biofuel crops are grown—is factored in, many biofuels may actually emit more carbon than does petroleum, the journal Science reported last year. Because oil palms don’t absorb as much CO2 as the rainforest or peatlands they replace, palm oil can generate as much as 10 times more carbon than petroleum, according to the advocacy group Food First. Thanks in large part to oil palm plantations, Indonesia is now the world’s third-largest emitter of CO2, trailing only the US and China…

I have just witnessed the palm companies’ modus operandi in miniature. Operatives will proposition community members to assemble a logging crew in return for a sum that is insignificant to the company and a fortune to a villager. Some people will say no—Julian refused $6,000. But the company will keep trying until someone says yes, and someone almost always does. This helps the plantations expand into the forests, but, even more important, it sows betrayal and division that undermine the opposition.

…According to Greenpeace, the destruction and degradation of Indonesian peatlands releases 4 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Mother Jones

 
At 6/23/2009 3:23 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

So the point of all the anonymously posted news clippings is that there is no such thing as a free lunch? I know this will come as a huge shock and disappointment, but something is always being destroyed to support human life. When it comes to energy there is no true win-win scenario.

 
At 6/23/2009 3:44 PM, Blogger Robert Miller said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6/23/2009 6:13 PM, Blogger rufus said...

Robert, I may not be a CE, but my non-flexfuel, older Chrysler runs just as well on Ethanol blends as my 2008 Flexfuel Chevrolet Impala.

Here is a study from the Univ of N. Dakota, and Mn State at Mankato in which 3 out of 4 cars attained better fuel economy on an ethanol blend than straight gasoline. TEST.

Ethanol returns anywhere from 1.5 to 8 units of of energy for every unit of energy inputted (depending, of course, on a multitude of factors such as: Feedstock, type of process, type of energy used in process, etc.)

My support of ethanol has Everything to do with balance of payments, and support of terrorist-funding entities, and that we seem to be approaching "peak" oil sometime in the, possibly, near future.

When it comes to AGW, I'm not just a Skeptic. I'm a "This is nonsensical, Balderdash"er. But, I am tired of my country spending close to a Billion Dollars/Day "Protecting" our right to spend another Billion Dollars/Day buying Oil from people that want to kill us.

BTW, 8% of that stuff in your gas tank is now ethanol, and the price of corn has gone up $0.03/lb. How many pounds of corn do you suppose you ate, today?

 
At 6/23/2009 6:23 PM, Blogger rufus said...

Oh, and here is a study in which Ia State Univ determined that the presence of ethanol in the fuel market has lowered gasoline prices by $0.35/gallon.

The U.S uses 140 Billion Gallons of Gasoline/Yr. $0.35/gal comes out to $49 Billion in Savings.

Plus, we no longer pay corn, and soybean farmers $11 Billion/Yr in Commodity Payments.

 
At 6/24/2009 6:36 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"First, the "you're a Socialist," ad hom. I'm Not a Socialist. I'm an Ex-Marine who's never voted Democratic (or, Socialist) in my life"...

You're not a socialist, eh rufus?

So tell me, do you think its O.K. the federal government uses a progressive income tax method?

"I'm a Strong Ethanol supporter. I'm, also, beginning to think that we'll do more with electricity, by way of wind, and solar, and some other renewable/sustainable sources than we realize at present"...

Funny thing for an alledged non-socialist should carry on about...

All those supposed methods of alternate energy can only work if the federal government MORE tax dollars for these Constitutionally questionable programs...

 
At 6/25/2009 10:22 AM, Anonymous Stefan said...

To Mark Perry, #1, Patrick and others who promote the development of tar sands at the cost of environmental destruction:

It is very disturbing when an influential Ph.D. such as M.Perry only presents one side of this issue--the short-term benefits of tar sands, and the private profits for oil companies; but completely ignores the social and environmental costs which taxpayers will pay long after the exploitation is finished.

Rufus and a couple other writers make very valid points explaining the health and environmental costs of tar sands exploitation. The oil companies want to make big profits, and avoid responsibility for all the damage they are causing. Their paid spokesmen (parliamentarians, Congressmen and Senators) in the Canadian and US governments try to hide the long-term costs, while touting the short-term benefits. (Long term costs include clean-up of the oil sites, all the downstream lakes and rivers, restoration of ground water supplies, health and cancer problems of citizens suffering from the pollutants, etc.)

Why should we repeat the costly lessons of 'quick buck' industrial activities in the US during the 20th century? We US taxpayers are now paying $hundred$ of $billionS for environmental cleanup of oil and industrial waste sites, and many people suffer from the long-term effects of polluted drinking water, industrial gases, asbestos, etc.
It is high time to develop non-toxic, environmentally benign energy sources, be they nuclear, solar, gas, bio-diesel, etc. And how about geothermal energy, which no one seems to discuss?

 
At 3/18/2010 5:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you compare the co2 emissions released into the atmosphere from an auto burning tar sands extracted fuel verses conventional oil well extracted fuel please?

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home