Proper Assessment of Shale Oil

by Catherine Parsekian

According to the results of a study done in China by Li et. al (2016), there is no method for measuring oil potential in shale reservoirs that includes both residual oil contents in the rocks as well as hydrocarbon expulsion and migration conditions. Li and his colleagues developed soon an index for determining oil potential. If the index is greater than zero, then some of the oil has migrated to external reservoirs which means that it has poor shale oil potential. Li et. al. argue that because current methods include absorbed, as well as free hydrocarbons, they are overvaluing the shale oil and not looking at oil that can readily be used. The method developed in this paper has multiple parameters and is a more comprehensive measurement since it takes into account oil saturation, free oil content, and shale oil expulsion. Continue reading

The Benefits of Cleaner Cookstoves for Climate and Human Health

by Natalie Knops

Widespread use of traditional wood and coal-burning cookstoves has resulted in a significant source of anthropogenic emissions. Reductions in these emissions could be deeply beneficial to impact climate change and public health. It is estimated that cleaner technology to replace traditional wood and coal-burning stoves could decrease the global temperature by nearly a tenth of a degree and save more than 10 million lives by 2050 (Pidcock, 2017). Exposure to household air pollution is responsible for an overwhelming number of preventable illnesses and deaths. It is estimated that exposure to cooking smoke in poorly ventilated homes is the cause of 370,000 to 500,000 premature adult deaths per year. Cooking smoke is a source of risk for burns, eye and respiratory diseases. Traditional cooking methods use solid fuels such as wood, animal dung, coal and biomass as fuel for an open fire. Methods like these release methane and carbon dioxide. Emissions from wood-fuels alone are approximated at 2% of global emissions (Robert Bailis, 2014).When wood and coal are burnt, aerosols are released along with greenhouse gases—the climate effect of these aerosols being strongly regional. Cooking fires are a primary source of black carbon soot. This black soot can be carried as far as the Arctic atmosphere, bringing about ice and permafrost melt (What is Black Carbon?, 2010). Continue reading

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

by Dena Kleemeier

My family has worked for Saudi Aramco, a national petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia for the past 16 years. In my time living in Saudi, I have experienced first hand the way in which the Kingdom uses/wastes their resources, providing oil to their citizens at a cheaper price than water, and subsidizing electricity to their populations. However with the decline in the price of crude (lost 67% of value since September 2014), the growing domestic oil demand of 7% per year, and the state of the environment, Saudi Arabia is in an awkward geopolitical situation, and is in need of comprehensive economic reform. Continue reading

China’s Coal Mining Hypocrisy

by Vikramaditya Jhunjhunwala

In light of President Trump’s uncertain stance on climate change, China has assumed the leading role in battling it. In an attempt to mobilize global initiative, China has publically implored its powerhouse compatriots, such as the United States, to acknowledge the science behind the phenomenon, and reduce their dependence on harmful fuels like coal and oil.

However, Keith Bradsher (2016), tells us of a troubling and rather ironic narrative of China mining and burning increased quantities of coal.

Even though there was a dip in production by 3 percent last year in a governmental effort to mitigate pollution and rising sea levels, Chinese coal is still the planet’s greatest source of carbon emission from human activities and the reopening of mines spells all kinds of environment-related troubles. Continue reading

Trump Moves to Continue Construction of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline

by Lauren Bollinger

On his second weekday in office, President Trump filed an executive order to reopen construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a project that was formerly blocked by the Obama administration after months of protests by Native American activists. The 1,172 mile-long pipeline is slated to run through four states, from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota through Illinois, and transport around half a million (470,000) barrels of crude oil per day.

Originally planned for delivery by January 1st of this year, the project was stalled after widespread protests led by Native American activists which gained international attention. In the early stages of planning, the pipeline was proposed to run through Bismarck, North Dakota, but was rerouted to run adjacent to the Standing Rock Reservation, after concerns from Bismarck residents. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux oppose the project as they argue it threatens environmental safety and indigenous sovereignty, as the pipeline is slated to run only a mile from their tribal borders. Continue reading

Reforming the US Coal Leasing Program

by Emil Morhardt

Almost half of the coal mined in the US comes from lands, mostly in Wyoming and Montana in the Powder River Basin (PRB), owned by the federal government and which have nearly 10% of the world’s known reserves. Gillingham et al. review the social costs of this coal extraction, and weigh them against the revenues flowing to the government from the leases and the resulting relatively low energy prices paid by consumers. According to their calculations, the monetized climate change damages caused by combustion of this coal are about six times the coal price of $0.51 per million British thermal units, which is only about a third of the price of coal from other major producing basins. Continue reading

The Permeability of Rock Salts

by Nelson Cole

At the University of Texas they found Rock Salts to be more permeable than originally expected. It was known that salt generally blocks fluid at a shallow depth. This feature of salt allows reservoirs to form. However, scientist had contemplated that salt may be permeable at a greater depth. When setting out to conduct experiments University of Texas, professors originally thought that Rock Salt would be used as a hydrocarbon seal for the oil industry. Since salt generally blocks fluid at a shallow depth and allows it to flow at a greater depth. It was quickly confirmed that salt becomes permeable at a greater depth. The real surprise came in that the fluids were sometimes able to flow through the salt at a shallow depth. The findings could have important implications for nuclear waste storage. Previous work on the permeability of salts has focused on the cracks formed by the nuclear waste itself. The findings from the study show that undisturbed rock salt can be permeable as well and it is permeable because of deformation. Continue reading

Federal Leasing of Gulf Waters for Fossil Fuels Meet Protests

by Max Breitbarth

While the United States publicly seeks to shift its energy usage to greener sources, a recent New Orleans federal auction—and the protests created in response—demonstrate that the United States is far from over its oil addiction. CNN’s John D. Sutter details the scene at an auction at New Orleans’ Superdome, where environmental protesters objected to the government’s lease of federal property in the Gulf of Mexico for fossil fuel development. Continue reading

Revisiting Oil Wells

by Nelson Cole

The insurance journal is doing a three part series regarding the current state of hydraulic fracking. In this first article they describe how due to the improvements in fracking technology, companies are able to revisit previously fractured wells and reach further oil. However, the risks involved with wells that are completed using hydraulic fracturing are significantly higher and different than conventional wells.

As companies revisit these old wells it reminds us of the age and risks of these wells. Oil and gas wells do not have an infinite life span. A well can blowout at any phase of its life whether producing, shut-in, or plugged and abandoned wells. With older wells that stretch back to 1859, the casing and cementing deteriorate with time and the risk of a blowout significantly increases. Re-fracturing these wells with new technologies is similar to a kid playing with fire. Everything is fine until a blowout occurs and pollutes a whole community’s groundwater and air. We saw this happen in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and later Los Angeles in 2015. (Insurance Journal)

Again, the likelihood of a blowout increases with these older wells being revisited which create a problem with insurance cost. Companies look to dodge paying higher insurance cost but what is most important in this process is that companies should be pressed to ensure that the proper casing is applied to the older wells when fractured again. (Insurance Journal)

In previous post I have discussed how the people lose in terms of royalties as land is handed back and forth within companies. The people lose big when land is handed back and forth and companies are not pressed to ensure the highest quality casing is implemented as new companies reopen wells.

A well drilled in one policy period, where coverage for the well completion was paid for, may not be completed via fracking until several years later, and possibly with a different carrier. Fracking risks have evolved to the point where the idea of creating a separate insurance coverage for hydraulic fracking and separating it from drilling exposures has come up and must be applied. (Insurance Journal)

 

Insurance Journal

http://www.insurancejournal.com/magazines/features/2016/01/11/394051.htm

 

Raising Oil Companies Taxes on Public Land

by Nelson Cole

As argued in the article written by Western Priorities, raising taxes on oil and gas companies can provide amazing benefits for the American people. Already tax revenue from oil and gas companies is the United States second largest source of tax revenue behind the IRS. (Western Alliance) However, we should increase that revenue because of our soaring national debt. Continue reading