Tuesday, February 24, 2009

P43. Pick Points

I mentioned in Monday’s post that I have an interest in algae, and so I will put up a couple of items that caught my attention this weekend. The first deals with the possibility of using wind power to provide some of the energy that algae need to foster growth Some of the European wind farms have been up for a while, and one in Denmark, that was installed in 1990, is looking at using some of the extra power to encourage algae growth. The algae, through the generation of biofuel, would thus act as a form of “battery” for the wind. One problem, however, is to ensure biological security, since the escape of algae species into a favorable place, such as in Hawaii, can have negative results, and require costly capture and remediation. The use of algae for flue gas cleanup has inspired a number of efforts, from Israel to MIT (who use it to make hydrogen), to Missouri . There is also the blog Oilgae, which carries the MIT report on the topic.

Developers of the Shtokman project are talking about using CCS as part of the strategy for development at the site. There is anticipation that the cost of the project will decline with the poor economy. More details of the loan from China to encourage a pipeline and oil supply to that nation are now emerging. The change in investment strategy has the advantage of getting a good price now for the oil, and securing it into the future. Russia is also trying to find a way to improve the efficient use of energy, with planning for a new law on the way, and an example of how it might be done, comes from a dairy. In the United States homeowners can look at the Home Energy Rating System which compares the energy use of a house with a standard. Based on the result that you get different approaches may be needed to lower the number (a 200 means you use twice the standard). Oregon is moving to have the state provide loans to encourage upgrading of homes in a way that would make them more energy efficient. As I noted in Monday’s post, this is something that we are seeing in an increasing number of states.

St Mary Land and Exploration is drilling horizontal wells into the Woodford, and Haynesville shale and while cutting the number of rigs back to 7, from 16 at the peak of last year, one or two of the rigs will shuttle between the Haynesville, the Eagle Ford and the Marcellus shale sites. The lateral section of the well is around 3,300 ft, and with 10 slick-water fracs will use some 3,000,000 lb of resin coated sand proppant. There is some move in Pennsylvania to require that drilling records for the Marcellus be made public (including production data) every six months. Other states such as Louisiana and Wyoming post such production on Web sites. Chesapeake, who is drilling both Marcellus and Hanesville is currently getting a favorable press. With natural gas prices projected as perhaps falling as low as $2 per MMBtu due to lack of demand and overproduction, this years prospects don’t look good for the industry.

Scotland is looking for new ways to develop marine energy, the target being some 60,000 MW. The current projects are based in Orkney, and the European Marine Energy Centre. The current targets are sites around Britain and Ireland that are capable of producing more than 1,000 MW each, largely from wave and tidal energy.

The State Governors are asking Presidential help in promoting biofuels hoping to see approval, for example, of ethanol blends above 10% and as high as 30%. (This was something Dr Chu was asked about last week).

Because of the global financial problems Russia and Kazakhstan are considering slowing the development of the Karachanganak project (which is reputed to have 47 trilion cubic ft of gas).

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