Friday, April 28, 2006

Link of the Day: EPA Alternative Fuels Site

Alternative Fuels - OTAQ - EPA

Index of Alternative Fuel Topics
Fact Sheets on Alternative Fuels
Certification Procedures & Emission Standards
Workshops and Meetings
Emission Models
Other EPA Links
External Links

Adobe Acrobat Reader needed to view some files.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Oil News for the AM

China's May imports are expected to be a bit less than previous months. Although the article admits that it is difficult to forcast the Chinese demand, forecasters are confident that the demand will be "much lower" due to the fact that 719,000 tons of fuel cargo this week. Of this a good portion is still unsold and will sit in the importer tanks, waiting for orders to come in. This did not seem to impact the Asian fuel oil prices as they are currently on the rise.

China has also managed to get 4 oil drilling licenses from Nigeria. In exchange China will invest around $4 billion in "downstream oil and infrastructure projects".
The two nations have been in talks for several months about such an agreement, which involves China buying a controlling stake in Nigeria's 110,000 barrel-a-day Kaduna oil refinery and building a railroad system and power stations.

Nigeria will offer first right of refusal to China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) for four oil exploration blocks during a licensing round due to be held in Nigeria on May 19.

An opinion piece in the Rocky Mountain News titled, 'A '70s revival on gasoline prices' argues that there is no "quick fix" for the gas price issue. At least none that may not impact us even more down the road.
There are few quick fixes available, though that hasn't stopped some Republicans from embracing a regulatory agenda that would make Jimmy Carter grin. And a rush to legislate could stifle energy production and economic vitality long after the 110th Congress is sworn in next year.

While it is impossible to see who wrote this and if they have any expertise in this particular arena, I find the opinions of the public have important value. After all it is perception that controls the futures prices. Iran may do this, Nigeria issues could cause that, etc, etc.

The US Justice Department is looking into allegations of criminal enterprise in the area of gas supply. The only catch is that it is not in the United States but overseas.
Gas traders to Western Europe face organised crime inquiry by the US
VITAL gas supplies to Western Europe are at the mercy of shady middlemen who have taken control of the gas trade between Russia, Ukraine and Turkmenistan, it was alleged yesterday.
Their unregulated business dealings have contributed to a sharp rise in the price of gas in leading markets, including Britain and Germany.

This link appeared in my inbox today. Apparently the Tax Foundation has gathered a bunch of data that shows how much the US Government has profited from the increase in energy taxes. It is much, much higher than what the oil companies have pulled in.
Due in part to substantial hikes in the federal gasoline excise tax in 1983, 1990, and 1993, annual tax revenues have continued to grow. Since 1977, governments collected more than $1.34 trillion, after adjusting for inflation, in gasoline tax revenues—more than twice the amount of domestic profits earned by major U.S. oil companies during the same period.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Energy News

Yes, I know, I have not blogged often. I had a wee bit of a run in with a black widow spider. She protested the appearance of my arm in my mailbox by biting me a couple of times. Then there was the sports injury. Then I signed up for Second Life. ;)

Doubts over World Bank energy plan

But some committee members have doubts about the initiative, and outside experts were also unconvinced by its thrust. Bank officials will over the next two years study technology options available, analyze the impact of climate change in developing countries and propose specific programs.

The global lender estimates that two-thirds of the increase in world energy demand over the next 25 years will come from the developing world.

At present, 1.6 billion people in South Asia and Africa have no access to electricity, while nearly 2.4 billion people still rely on wood, agricultural residues and dung for cooking and heating.

Turning Dirty Coal Into Clean Energy

Because of that catalyst, GreatPoint's process works at a lower temperature than other technologies, which makes the process much cheaper. The catalyst also enables GreatPoint to separate out about half of the carbon dioxide, a chief cause of climate change. (The company plans to sell that carbon dioxide to be injected into oil or gas wells to facilitate production.) Other pollutants also are removed at the plant, which makes the product much cleaner than the synthesis gas produced by other gasification processes.

Benefits of clean energy quantified
New Jersey's $140 million investment in its Clean Energy Program last year saved enough electricity to power 50,000 homes and enough natural gas to heat 6,100 homes, the Board of Public Utilities said.

In addition, the statewide program helped finance projects that should produce even bigger energy savings in the future, the BPU said in its 2005 Annual Report for New Jersey's Clean Energy Program released Friday.

Black holes generate ‘green’ energy

"If you could make a car engine that was as efficient as one of these black holes, you could get about a billion miles out of a gallon of gas," said study team leader Steve Allen of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University. "In anyone's book, that would be pretty green."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Gas Use Down

High prices are being credited as the reason why the demand for gasoline has not been as strong this year, even going into the red 0.6% last month. If this trend continues it is thought that it could lead to stabilizing gas prices at a lower cost per gallon.

High prices cut gas use

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Improve Gas Mileage

With oil in the $70 USD per barrel range, it is important to conserve as much as possible. Right now the demand for gasoline rose only 0.9% when compared to last year. Last year rose by 1.4%.

The FTC has a list of things one can do to improve their gas mileage.

  • Stay within posted speed limits. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour.

  • Avoid unnecessary idling. It wastes fuel, costs you money, and pollutes the air. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a wait.

  • Remove excess weight from the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce a typical car’s fuel economy by up to two percent.

  • Change your oil. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you can improve your gas mileage by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.

  • Check and replace air filters regularly. Replacing clogged filters can increase gas mileage up to ten percent.

  • Your owner’s manual recommends the most effective octane level for your car. For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane. In most cases, using a higher octane gas than the manufacturer recommends offers no benefit. Unless your engine is knocking, buying higher octane gasoline is a waste of money.

  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles offer another option for car buyers. According to DOE and EPA, these vehicles combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors and can be configured to achieve different objectives, such as improved fuel economy and increased power.

  • Be skeptical of claims for devices that will “boost your mileage by an extra 6 miles per gallon,” “improve your fuel economy up to 26 percent,” or the like. EPA has tested over 100 supposed gas-saving devices — including mixture “enhancers” and fuel line magnets — and found that very few provide any fuel economy benefits. The devices that work provide only marginal improvements. Some “gas-saving” devices may damage a car’s engine or increase exhaust emissions. For more information and a full list of tested products, check this.

  • The site has a few more but you get the idea. Keep your car well maintained and drive the posted speed limit.

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    Oil Woes Continue To Plague The U.S.

    Crude oil climbed higher yesterday, breaching the $68 per barrel mark. Most of this was due to a gasoline supply concern in the United States as inventories were reported to be lower than expected for the coming summer demand. The question is, at the current prices, how much of an extra demand will we see? Adding to the higher prices is the fact that refinary output was lower than it had been. While this is not unexpected due to a normal practise of effecting repairs and other work prior to the summer demand, investors feel that the refinaries are not increasing their productivity fast enough to meet the future demand in the coming months.

    Oil futures did dip early in trading, moving down closer to the $67 per barrel mark as investors decided to make a quick buck on the recent upwards trend. Also helping to ease supply fears is the fact that Nigeria has picked up production again and should return to their normal output sometime next month. OPEC's Edmund Daukoru also said that 1) there is a 1.9 million barrel surplus of oil a day, 2) that there are no plans to curtail the current production level and 3) that he favors the mid $50 oil prices over the mid $60 that we are currently seeing.

    Articles used for this posting:
    Oil Falls From Two-Month High as Nigeria Supply May Increase
    Oil Rises as U.S. Gasoline Supplies Slip, Refiners Cut Output
    Crude Oil Prices Fall on Profit Taking
    Oil Falls From Two-Month High as Recent Gains Seen Unjustified

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    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Fuel Cell News

    Cheaper Fuel Cells

    The researchers say the new membrane conducts protons nearly three times as well as the currently used material, significantly improving power density. Also, unlike the current material, the new membrane can be easily molded into patterns to increase its surface area. By increasing the area by up to 60 percent, the researchers have further doubled the power density of a fuel cell. Joseph DeSimone, the UNC-Chapel Hill chemistry and chemical engineering professor who heads the lab where the work was done, thinks they can increase the membrane's surface area 20 to 40 times by using different patterns, increasing the power density proportionately.

    The researchers are doing their work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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