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View Diary: Sunday Train: Four Transport Alternatives to Canadian Tar Sands (36 comments)

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  •  Ack, missed the first oil drum quote: (0+ / 0-)
    The issue of EROI is different from most other fuels because the energy source for the process is from the resource itself and it has no other alternative economic uses. This is different from “diverting” energy either from society (e.g. to mine coal or grow a biomass fuel) or from a situation where the energy could be immediately used by society (natural gas used at a petroleum well to run a pump vs being piped to society).

    Try looking at things another way.

    by atheistben on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 09:09:00 AM PDT

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    •  If the production uses bitumen rather than ... (2+ / 0-)
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      Judge Moonbox, NoMoreLies

      ... natural gas as an extraction heat source, you increase the net energy yield through the pipeline at the cost of an unacceptable increase in CO2 emissions. That's a false economy.

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      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 09:14:44 AM PDT

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      •  It's not a false economy (0+ / 0-)

        From wikipedia:

        A 2009 study by CERA estimated that production from Canada's oil sands emits "about 5 percent to 15 percent more carbon dioxide, over the "well-to-wheels" lifetime analysis of the fuel, than average crude oil."[86] Author and investigative journalist David Strahan that same year stated that IEA figures show that carbon dioxide emissions from the tar sands are 20% higher than average emissions from oil [87] With coal's CO2 emissions about one-third higher than convention oil's , this would make the tar sands' emissions equal to about 90% of the CO2 released from coal.

        5% - 15% more CO2 than oil. 90% of coal CO2. Bad for sure. I agree. And we need to be researching methods of mitigating GHG emissions. But it's not a false economy by any means.

        Try looking at things another way.

        by atheistben on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 09:43:21 AM PDT

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        •  This depends on production technology ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Judge Moonbox, NoMoreLies

          ... though, doesn't it? If the dilutant is a natural occuring light liquid or processing with natural gas, very light oil, the net energy cost of the dilutent is very low and the net carbon impact of the dilutent is dominated by its fraction in the refined product. If the dilution is performed with a naturally occuring hydrogen intensive gas, such as methane, then the net energy cost of the process is higher, but very little additional carbon is added to the bitumen. If the dilution is performed with a synthetic liquid or gas, there are a wide range of net energy costs and a wide range of carbon emissions depending on the feedstock and the energy source for the synthesis.

          An analysis based on natural gas as the energy source for freeing the bitumen from the sand and natural gas as the primary foodstock for processing the bitumen into a pipeline transportable liguid gives good numbers, but at 2.8m bpd they are false numbers, given constraints on natural gas supply.

          The strip mining is cited at a more recent Oil Drum piece at a net energy return on investment of 5.5, so (4.5/5.5)=82% net yield, and the energy to be replaced from 2.8m pbd would be 2.3m bpd.

          The less water intensive underground THAI process, still under development is estimated at the Oil Drum at 8.9 EROI less the energy cost of the naptha dilutent ~ if, for example, the naptha is recovered and recycled efficiently ~ for a (7.9/8.9)=89% net yield.

          Which goes back to the point of the User Cost of the energy inefficient strip mining: the tar sands are not a renewable resource, and its not possible to go back and do it over again to capture that lost energy ~ nor to go back and do it over again to avoid destroying such a large chunk of our own life support system, both the boreal forests and bogs and the water supply. Nor is it possible to go back and do it over to avoid bringing the toxic wastes to the surface to sit in settlement ponds for decades and even centuries.

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          by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 10:52:37 AM PDT

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    •  It feels like we're trying to get away with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF

      some "free energy" here. To remove from consideration the resource itself as an energy input under the guise of "no alternative economic uses" while simultaneously extracting that resource for economic use simply does not compute for me.

      I guess it's the clash between physics and economics when trying to define what the term EROEI means. Even if we do allow economic value judgements to enter our analysis, we need to be extremely clear on how we arrive at statements like something having "no alternative economic use." That's a rare bird indeed. Almost everything in nature has more than one possible use and that is the essence of the concept of opportunity cost in economics.

      "When you bemoan the 'Professional Left' you are making the case for MORE CONSERVATIVE POLICIES." - MinistryOfTruth

      by shaggies2009 on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 02:09:43 PM PDT

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      •  I = Invested (0+ / 0-)

        It's not a clash if you understand the terms. I mean, the whole metric was created so that we would have a measure of the most efficient energy to go after with the energy we have. We're trying to create more net energy for our society to use.

        If it generates it's own supply of energy for extraction, that's not energy invested.

        And unless you've got another economic use for trillions of barrels of bitumen you want to talk about, how about you not present that thought to try to discredit the statements of others.

        Try looking at things another way.

        by atheistben on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 02:28:08 PM PDT

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        •  We already have an alternative use ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shaggies2009

          ... on trial in the heel-toe THAI extraction technique that would, on the figures cited in the Oil Drum, appear to be substantially more energy efficient, which means strip mining now or using steam underground extraction now with bitumen burned to generate the steam is wasting the resource that would be available under the THAI approach, if it proves out.

          Its not a renewable energy source ~ when it is consumed now, it is no longer available, no matter what technology is available later in the century and no matter how useful the bitumen may be a material rather than as a fuel as oil production declines and with it the reduction in the production of the most viscous of the refinery products.

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          by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 03:30:07 PM PDT

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        •  Investment implies Opportunity Cost (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruceMcF, Judge Moonbox

          I'm saying that the usage of tar sands based oil in the energy market is the alternate use compared to using it as an energy input for extraction.

          As a hypothetical, imagine if a process improvement came along that required 20% less use of the bitumen in the extraction process. If that means that 20% of bitumen stays in the ground forever, then I would concede there is no alternate use. But my reading of the situation is that 20% would wind up on the energy market. By itself, that means use of the bitumen in the extraction process is an investment of energy by society.

          As far as your last statement is concerned, discussing the merits of explicit assumptions made in technical papers is not an act of discrediting statements of others. It is rather the proper digestion and discussion of those technical papers.

          "When you bemoan the 'Professional Left' you are making the case for MORE CONSERVATIVE POLICIES." - MinistryOfTruth

          by shaggies2009 on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 03:32:12 PM PDT

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          •  Or, alternativelty, 20% ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shaggies2009, Judge Moonbox

            ... stays in the ground because of an assessment that the reduced environmental destruction merits leaving it in the ground until a less destructive use for the resource can be found.

            That would imply that the opportunity cost of the use was greater than that implied by treating it as an energy source.

            Where the opportunity cost of the energy consumed may be arguably set to one side if where it is a volatile, "use it or lose it" resource like wind. For a non-renewable mineral resource, for the most part, consuming it is consuming it, not consuming it is preserving it for use by a later, less fossil-fuel rich generation.

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            by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 03:43:35 PM PDT

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