Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gasoline Prices the World Over: March 1st, 2008

I came across this at Diabetes Daily of all places. They do not cite their sources but I figured it probably was accurate. Please do not assume these numbers are academically accurate. They are Google sourced.

Prices are quoted in US dollars per gallon for regular unleaded.

Oslo , Norway $6.82

Hong Kong $6.25

Brussels, Belgium $6.16

London, UK $5.96

Rome, Italy $5.80

Tokyo, Japan $5.25

Sao Paulo, Brazil $4.42

New Delhi, India $3.71

Sidney , Australia $3.42

Johannesburg, South Africa $3.39

Mexico City $2.22

Buenos Aires , Argentina $2.09

Riyadh , Saudi Arabia $0.91

Kuwait $0.78Caracas


Compare with my last post on the subject here. Notice the last time I reported on these pricing differences Venezuela was $0.11 a gallon. No doubt the price hasn't changed just the US dollar in comparison.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How do you know the US Ethanol Tariff might be going away?

When major refiners starts investing in Ethanol South America.

I saw it over at the Biobased News where they cited a BP Press Release.

BP announced today that it intends to take a 50 per cent stake in Tropical BioEnergia SA, a joint venture established by Brazilian companies Santelisa Vale and Maeda Group, which is constructing a 435 million liter (115 million gallons) a year ethanol refinery in Edéia, Goias State, Brazil.

Quite the bet on BP's part. Or maybe that's the only way to play in Brazil. To build strategic partnerships with local biofuel producers. The Press Release points to sugar cane and sugar cane waste as the feedstocks. It also mentions the plants markets to be both domestic Brazil and export abroad.

NOTE: I have no basis for this speculation beyond my initial gut reaction when first reading the news. BP, Shell, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil have all been making good-sized biofuel bets as of late. Something about his one just seemed to run of the mill to be just another "bet on the future" PR move by major oil refiners.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

BP's Petroleum Exploration and Production Presentation

NOTE: I neither agree with nor forward any Peak Oil argument's I have seen and yes I've read several books on the subject and have had hundreds of heated conversations with experts on the topic of Peak Oil.

From a BP Press Release footnote explaining the basis of statements made about sugar cane ethanol I followed over to a set of interesting information at BP's global site.

At the site there was a host of interesting stuff to look at. Unfortunately time in life is limited so I just skimmed through and struck on what I hoped would be a really interesting presentation. You know, the type of presentation I can skim slides from to make myself look really smart in my own presentations.

I was looking for Powerpoint slides about hydrocracking, catalytic reforming, and heavy tar sands, oil shale, and producing sweet crude from abandoned wells with new bleeding edge technology. But that isn't what I found.

I found instead a very weak presentation about how BP is running out of oil and that it's spending more and more to access harder to get to crude.

The Future of Exploration and Production
by Tony Hayward the CEO of Exploration and Production at BP

What really caught my eye in this presentation wasn't the profound information. This being normal for technical slides about a complex subject such as oil exploration. What caught my eye here was the basic lack of explanation beyond simple statements. All I could think about was how a good friend of mine, Randy White (who lives, eats, and breaths peak oil) would think after seeing this presentation.

He would see this presentation as conclusive proof that the world has run out of oil and major oil companies have no strategy for how the world will meet its energy needs.

Now below shows their reserves and the development. It shows the general large strikes BP made in the Middle East, the Alaskan North Slope fields BP has to its credit, and also that recently the main development has been by acquisitions of the late 1990's.

Then comes the next technical slide from the presentation. A "Lifecycle of a Basin" or the reality that given current oil prices an oil well becomes to expensive to extract oil from after roughly 25 years.

Look above and do some fifth grade math. Oil supplies held by BP are declining beyond their acquisition of new fields developed by other other oil companies.

Now at this point I would encourage BP to talk about proprietary technology. That the future of their exploration and production would be based on BP being better at extraction than any other player. The fact maybe that even though the easy oil isn't quite so easy any more at above $60 or $100 a barrel it was a new world for their BP.


This is what BP's CEO of exploration puts up next. These simple statements which are almost a joke. If Saturday Night Live did a skit about oil exploration no doubt these would be the bullet statements they would put up to garner a laugh.

Find new oil deposits. Be the first there. And focus on finding the biggest find possible.

Wow, quite profound statements.
It reminds me of slides we all saw from Dot.Com operations a decade ago.

Okay. This slide is pretty cool simply because it's got cool pictures.

But from the perspective of a Huber's Peak worshiping Hilbroner reading 'Peak Oiler' like my friend Randy this slide only convinces one thing.

Their statement would be simple "See no oil left to find."

BP presentation on exploration and production does little to convince even those who know alot about Peak Oil but haven't bought into it as a reality that there is a supply of cheap crude oil in the world left untapped.

If I was a journalist who saw three less than credible presentations on Peak Oil and then saw this presentation from one of the largest energy players in the world I would no doubt side with Peak Oil having something to it.

For all of BP's investment in outside the box energy development. It's focus on gaining more crude from the same old holes in the Earth, there was nothing to point to this beyond the fact that exploration for big finds is compeletly off-shore deeper than ever.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

How Much Oil? 1 Cubic Mile of Petroleum a Year

The world uses a little over 1 cubic mile of petroleum a year.

I love the visual of how big of an ocean we consume. The source is Ripudaman Malhotra from SRI Internation.

The article I spotted the fact at was over at CNet News.

Other interesting facts:
It would take 4.2 Billion rooftop's covered with a 2.1 megawatt panels each to equal the energy consumed by world oil.

It would take 2,500 900 megawatt nuclear plants to replace the energy consumed currently by the world in liquid petroleum.

It would take 3 million wind turbines to replace a cubic mile of oil as well.
The article also came complete with an interesting chart below.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Zap Called on the Carpet by Wired Magazine

Wired calls Zap a "Hype Machine" with a scathing article pointing to over a decade of broken promises, deceptive business practices, and a consistent shady use of its companies equity to pay debts.

Simple breakdown about Zap as described by the article:

They promised vehicles they couldn't get.

They assumed and claimed relationships with Chrysler they never had.

They took money in exchange for dealership territories and left their dealership network to fail without a true supply of alternative fuel vehicles.

Those vehicles they did deliver were electric and could not perform adequately to actually sell, were shodily put together, and were poorly supported by warranty.

Oh yeah - Warranty work was left unpaid and hanging as well.

All while continually paying people in ever greater issues of company stock.

So in short - the bad things you hear about electric vehicles - probably Zap.

I saw this the weekend the magazine came out. Wanted to do a post on it but found that Wired hadn't put it online yet. Came across the magazine this morning and remembered how significant this is. So much for Zap (though rumors, problems, and complaints had already been heard and well known in electric vehicle circles for a while now).

I called a friend of mine who was involved in the launching of EcoMotion (an EPA Smartway certified and electric vehicle dealership here in Portland, Oregon). His immediate comment was not one of surprise.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Range Fuels: Biogass to Ethanol

I came across an article I thought worth sharing. Two points of interest. The initial article was found at BusinessGreen.com and is worth reading.

One - Range Fuels, a biofuel startup, got a significant amount of direct investment. This to support its efforts in turning woody biomass into liquid fuel which are about to be commercially scaled in their first plant in Georgia under construction now. This round of funding came on the heels of another $76 million awarded by the US DOE to also support their technology.

Two - The process explained of how they will make their cellulosic ethanol. The article called it a "thermo-chemical" technique of turning wood into liquid fuel.

From my guessing this is a fancy way of saying they burn the wood, pull off the exhaust gas (now technically referred to as "biogas) and introduce the biogas to an environment that includes a catalyst. The catalyst in turn would create certain or pull out molecule chains that would then be further refined into liquid fuel (i.e. cleaned up).

Interesting stuff. I hope to have time to put up more on this technology process. I've read a little about it and seen presentations at conferences. Either way I need to learn more about it. Something in my gut says this is going to be the next big focus. Primarily because the combined heat and power potential probably fits extremely well with existing corn based ethanol and therefore could be readily adopted as a plant expansion for existing ethanol producers.

My thoughts are that we will be hearing increasingly more about Range Fuels going forward if for no other reason than they have the money to push for earned media coverage and must justify the cash they've recently pulled down.

NOTE: This blog first mentioned Range Fuels after they recieved a large investment from Vinod Kholsla. See the previous DieselGeek Post on the subject.

Friday, April 4, 2008

From the PMAA News

The PMAA is the Petroleum Marketers Association of America E-Newsletter.

The reason I posted this up was the last paragraph which states that there are three factors affecting high energy prices:

US Monetary Policy
Geopolitical Events

All adding as much as 30 to 40 percent to the cost of crude oil.
Think about that. That would mean that oil should be below $70 a barrel given the economics of the pre-Bush Presidency. See the actual release below.


On Tuesday, the House Select Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee held a hearing to address oil companies’ profits, current gasoline prices and alternative energy. Testifying before the committee were: Mr. J. Stephen Simon, Senior Vice President of Exxon Mobil Corp; Mr. John Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil Company; Mr. Robert A. Malone, Chairman and President of BP America, Inc.; Mr. Peter Robertson, Vice Chairman of Chevron and Mr. John Lowe, Executive Vice President of ConocoPhillips.

As in the past, the hearing served as political theatre to criticize major oil companies. Members asked oil companies to invest ten percent of their profits in renewable energy and biofuels. Currently, House leaders are trying to repeal $18.1 billion in oil production tax incentives to create tax breaks for alternative energy companies.

PMAA applauds Representative John Larson (D-CT) for focusing attention on the futures markets. Representative Larson argued that, “speculators are driving energy costs,” and asked oil executives if they agreed that excessive speculation has artificially raised energy prices. Mr. Simon, Senior Vice-President, Exxon Mobil Corporation explained that there are three factors affecting high energy prices: U.S. monetary policy, geopolitical events, and speculation which may add as much as much as 30 to 40 percent to the cost of crude oil.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

25x25 Responds to Time Magazine Article

FROM AN EMAIL ADDRESSED: "To all 25'x25 Partners, April 2, 2008

Responding to widespread inaccuracies in this week's Time magazine cover story, the 25x'25 National Steering Committee is responding with a letter to the editors of Time expressing disappointment with the questionable characterization of biofuels and their role in the issue of greenhouse gas emissions in "The Clean Energy Scam," by Michael Grunwald. The letter was authored by steering committee member and former Congressman Thomas W. Ewing, who is also the Immediate Past Chairman of the USDA and DOE Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. The entire letter follows:

As a former Member of Congress and a leader in a diverse alliance of agricultural, environmental and conservation organizations working together to advance clean energy solutions, I am greatly disturbed with Time magazine's April 7th feature story on biofuels. In this article, Michael Grunwald criticizes biofuels yet offers no alternative to using petroleum to meet our energy needs - much of which comes from the Middle East.

Members of our alliance share the author's anxiety for the continued health of the Amazon rain forest and other "carbon sinks" that nature has provided around the globe. As champions of many forms of land-based renewable energy (biomass, wind energy, solar power, geothermal energy and hydropower, in addition to biofuels), we agree that environmentally sensitive lands should not be exploited in pursuit of renewable fuels.

Unfortunately, the story's message of concern is undermined by misinformation about biofuels and an over-simplified analysis of complex systems. The implication that biofuel production is responsible for the destruction of the Amazon rain forest ignores the reality that ever increasing worldwide demand for food and fiber is the primary cause of land use change in this and other regions. Simply eliminating biofuels will not stop land use changes from occurring, and in countries like Haiti that have already lost their forests, biofuels could help reestablish forests and offer more affordable and sustainable energy options. Similarly, information in the story about a recent study, which claims land-use changes brought about by increased biofuel production are producing more greenhouse gas emissions (Searchinger et al.), only tells half the story. What is missing is that Searchinger's methodologies have been widely questioned by respected biofuel life-cycle analysis researchers such as Michael Wang, with the Center for Transportation Research at the Argonne National Laboratory, who counter that Searchinger et al. used outdated, if not incorrect, data to reach their conclusions.

The story's reference to a UN food expert's dramatic condemnation of biofuel production fails to mention that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization almost immediately distanced itself from the remarks. The head of the UN Food Program recently noted that higher energy costs, erratic weather and low stocks are big factors contributing to the high cost of food around the globe.

Of particular concern is the ready dismissal of emerging technologies that will allow us to produce next generation biofuels from non-food feedstocks sustainably grown on underutilized and marginal lands not suited for food production. Conservation tillage and other agriculture and forestry residue management practices used to produce biomass energy feedstocks can also provide a constant buildup of soil organic carbon. Researchers at Ohio State have concluded that the total potential of carbon sequestration in U.S. soils, counting croplands, grazing lands and woodlands, is nearly 600 million metric tons of carbon, or the equivalent of more than 2,200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions - about 33 percent of total U.S. emissions.

We encourage the editors of Time to contribute to a much-needed discussion of the role renewable resources will play in improving national security and the environment while moving us closer to energy independence. We simply ask that they demand a basic level of accuracy and balance from the stories that they run.

The Full Press Packet and no doubt more will be coming at the 25x25 main website shortly.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oregon Petroleum Stats

2005 Resident Population 3,641,056

Number with Driver's Licenses in 2005: 2,692,948

Miles of Road in Oregon: 64,544 miles

Oregon Petroleum Use: 2,111,000,000
(Gasoline private highway usage 1,481,000,000)

Petroleum Per Mile of Road: 32,706 gallons

Average Cost of Petroleum: Assume $3.00

Petroleum Use Per Capita: 580 gallons
Petroleum Use per Licensed Driver: 784 gallons

2006 Oregon State GDP: 144,278,000,000
Oregon Per Capita GDP: $39,626
2005 Per Capita Personal Income: $32,103

Oregon Taxes: $6,522,665,000
Tax Burden Per Capita: $1,791.45

Per Capita Petroleum Cost: $1740.00
Per Capita Driver's Petroleum Cost: $2352.00

Oregon State Motto: Alis volat Propriis (She flies with her own wings)

An aptly phrased motto from an energy policy wonk's perspective.