More good stuff from the open frontier of energy – 6/1

Articles on operation of salt water disposal sites, damage from ethanol, drones in the oil patch, and an interview with Chevron’s CEO (including comments on harsh over regulation in California).

5/26 – Journal Publishing – Putting the ‘safe’ in hazardous oil waste – Superb article on salt water disposal (SWD). Waste water from a well, perhaps two or 3 gallons for every gallon of oil, goes to special treatment sites.

The SWD sites have lots of tanks to let the saltwater settle. Oil floats to the top, is skimmed off, then sold.

Solids settle to the bottom. There are sent to a landfill.

Saltwater settles to the middle and is pulled out. It is filtered to remove naturally occurring radioactive particles and solids. Radioactive parts above 5 pCi (that’s the cut off at which a single sheet of paper would block the radiation) is sent to a radioactive disposal site.

The saltwater, with oil removed, radioactive particles removed, and solids removed, is pumped into a 2 mile deep well. As with oil drilling sites, there are two layers of piping from the surface to below the water table. The outer layer is held in place by concrete. The inner layer is held in place by specialty concrete that mimics soil but does not allow movement of liquids.

Superb background. I’ve not previously read of how a SWD facility works. Fascinating.

5/22 – Shale Plays Media – How Ethanol could corrode summer fun – Very large portion of the engines used on recreational boats are not designed for using ethanol.  Many boaters rely on EO gas (ethanol-free) to preserve their engines. Getting ethanol into the fuel system can stall engines, corrode the fuel tanks, damage valves, or eat away gaskets and rubber fuel lines.

That is a big issue for boaters.

Cars after 2001 can handle 10% corn power. The new E15 fuel can wipe out even those engines.

Oh, burning edible corn in a motor not designed to handle that type of (extremely expensive) fuel and you will void the warranty. That means you get to buy the new engine on your own dime.

5/28 – RBN Energy – “Up Where We Belong” – Drone Use In the Energy Sector Rising Fast – One example of huge application – sensors to detect methane leaks are small enough to mount on a drone. They are sensitive enough to tell a difference between flatulent cows and something leaking out of a gas pipeline.

Think how much cost could be saved by flying a methane-sensing UAV the length of a pipeline compared to airplane overflight.

Drones are being used to inspect the interior tanks of huge oil or natural gas tanker ships.

The cost of UAVs can run from a few thousand of $100,000 if it’s quite sophisticated. To put that in context, the article points out that renting a helicopter can cost $3000 an hour.

5/29 – Million Dollar Way – IBD Interview With Chevron CEO – article summarizes a lengthy interview with the Chevron CEO by Steven Moore.

The CEO thinks it will take some additional increase in prices to get a lot of drilling going again.

He points out that California has several very aggressive laws. The US produces about 15% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. California produces about 1% of GGGE.

Mr. Oksol points out California is regulating as if we were producing 99% of GGGE.

What are the impacts of harsh regulation?

The CEO points out that the tech companies are not building data centers in California. Mr. Oksol points out they are going to North Carolina and San Antonio instead.

Driving those construction and operational jobs out of California reduces employment.

The CEO points to studies which suggest that the California regulations could directly add around $1 to the price of gas. I’m currently paying a couple of pennies under $4, so can expect that to go to $5.

There’s already a stiff premium to buy gas in California. During my recent trip to Williston, I paid $2.60 a gallon. At the time the price here was $3.90. Within a fraction of a penny that is a 50% premium to drive in California.

That gas premium functions as a regressive tax, which means the increased cost hits poor people harder than rich people. Same with driving up the cost of electricity.

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