17 April 2008

The New and the Old

Breakthrough may yield potential energy source

A Mackenzie Delta drilling rig has become the site of a breakthrough that could revolutionize the world's energy supply. For the first time, Canadian and Japanese researchers produced a stream of natural gas from icelike gas hydrates that dwarf all known fossil fuel deposits. "We were able to sustain flow," said Scott Dallimore, the Geological Survey of Canada researcher in charge of the Mallik drilling program. A hydrate is created when a molecule of gas is trapped by high pressures and low temperatures inside a cage of icy water molecules. Heat or "unsqueeze" the hydrate and gas is released, producing 164 times the energy of the same amount of natural gas. While hydrate fields are found under the coastal waters of every continent, releasing that energy consistently and predictably, however, has been the problem. Using heat works, but requires too much energy. Researchers have also been trying to release the methane by reducing the pressure on it. The Mallik team is the first to use that method to get a steady, consistent flow.
(Toronto Star 080417)

Why don't we just burn every little bit of hydrocarbon we can get our dirty little monkey hands on? I'm sure it won't have any bad consequences!

Oil prices extend record run to US$115

Oil prices streaked into record territory for the second straight day Wednesday, boosted by a decline in US energy reserves and as the weakening dollar drew investments in commodities. New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, crossed US$115 a barrel for the first time on its way to an intraday record high of $115.07. It settled up $1.14 at a record close of $114.93. The price reflected the markets worry over tight supplies. The weekly report from the US Department of Energy showed that US energy stockpiles tumbled in the week ending April 11. US crude inventories slumped by 2.3 million barrels last week compared with analysts' consensus forecast for a drop of 1.8 million. US crude stocks now stand at 313.7 million barrels, in the lower half of the average range for this time of year, the department said. Oil futures also gained support after the dollar plunged to an all-time low against the euro. The European single currency rocketed to a record high $1.5979 after official data showed annual eurozone inflation at an all-time peak, paring the possibility of a European Central Bank interest rate cut. Inflation in the 15 nations sharing the euro jumped to an annual rate of 3.6% in March. The weak US unit encourages demand for dollar-priced goods like crude, which become cheaper for buyers using stronger currencies.
(Calgary Herald 080417)

Ottawa urged to consider gas hike

Automakers are calling on Ottawa to look at raising the price of gasoline as a way to cut emissions. The request is contained in a brief submitted to Transport Canada in March as part of the federal government's consultations on proposed national fuel-consumption rules for motor vehicles. It comes as Canadian drivers face near-record prices at the pumps and oil and gasoline futures trade at levels never before seen. "While not advocating for an increase in the cost of fuel, this option must be considered as part of the government's comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to effectively reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions at the lowest possible economic cost," says the position paper, prepared jointly by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association. The trade groups together represent all the major auto-makers selling and making vehicles in Canada, including General Motors, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda. In its submission, the industry groups argue that Canada's auto industry is prepared to accept more stringent mandatory fuel-economy standards for new vehicles. It wants Canada and the US to work toward one continent-wide standard, based on the new fleet-wide average mileage target of 35 miles-per-gallon (6.72 litres per 100 km) by 2020 enacted by US lawmakers last December. But the groups argue that regulations that address only technology are "not the most efficient approach" to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions. "A comprehensive plan is needed," their brief states, one that includes other measures such as boosting driver awareness. "Increased fuel efficiency alone will not achieve the objectives unless it is part of a truly effective plan to reduce GHG emissions." Ottawa is expected to have final regulations on vehicle fuel economy ready by the end of the year.
(National Post 080417)

As stated before, the only way to elicit widespread behavioral change is through fundamentals. In capitalist society, that fundamental is the pocketbook. Anything voluntary won't cut it for the monkeys with laser capabilities.

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