Monday, October 26, 2009

Inexhaustible? Abundant fossil fuels an ever-expanding resource.

Holiday 2008 USA, LLC

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When someone says we will have oil available for "millennia," you just have to dig deeper.

Robert Bradley, president of the Institute for Energy Research, made that claim in response to a question following his keynote address at a Heritage Foundation gathering (see pX).

A quick check on the Internet turned up a policy analysis Bradley published more than eight years ago on The Increasing Sustainability of Conventional Energy. Though there has since been a vast change in energy prices, its underlying message continues to challenge the alarmist notion that we are rapidly depleting our fossil-fuel resources.

"Environmentalists support a major phase-down of fossil fuels (with the near-term exception of natural gas) and substitution of favored 'non-polluting' energies to conserve depletable resources and protect the environment. Yet energy mega-trends contradict those concerns," Bradley wrote in 1999.

"Fossil-fuel resources are becoming more abundant, not scarcer, and promise to continue expanding as technology improves, world markets liberalize, and investment capital expands. The conversion of fossil fuels to energy is becoming increasingly efficient and environmentally sustainable in market settings around the world."

In an interview last week, Bradley didn't back down from his claim that oil resources are virtually inexhaustible.

"We're not talking about crude oil, just oil, be it coal oil, tar sands--the whole family of hydrocarbons," he said. "Hydrocarbons are nothing more than the sun's stored energy. ... And we have an ocean of Btu beneath our feet."

The thrust of Bradley's argument: It's a huge mistake to develop policies that decrease reliance on fossil fuels, because they are our dominant energy source for a reason. Wind or solar projects that rely on current flows from the sun can't compete with the eons of stored solar energy found in fossil fuels.

For instance, one West Texas wind farm along Interstate 10 is anything but compact--sprawling over the ridgelines for miles and miles to do the job of a relatively compact natural gas-fired power plant.

While environmentalists will argue that the carbon dioxide produced by the gas-fired plant is causing global warming, you are going to need that plant as a backup anyway, because wind power is unreliable. And ask West Texas ranchers what they think about the noise and visual pollution wind farms produce.

Technology has advanced rapidly, just as Bradley predicted, to allow the world to access a growing abundance of fossil-fuel resources and use them in an environmentally responsible manner.

It would be a huge mistake to veer from that course, because other energy sources can't measure up.

California's leaders in particular seem bent on the notion that they can somehow wean the state off its "dependence" on fossil-fuels. But it's a utopian pipedream. In the end, they'll still have to import power from coal-plants in the Southwest and bring in gas from LNG terminals in Mexico. Why shouldn't they expect to carry some of the water they drink.

The Natural Gas Week composite spot wellhead price this week is $6.16/MMBtu, 10[cent] less than last week and 19[cent] more than the Jul. 24, 2006, average. The spot delivered-to-pipeline price this week is $6.38/MMBtu, 11[cent] less than last week and 19[cent] more than last year's corresponding average.

July 23, 2007
Interstate Intrastate Delivered
Wellhead Wellhead To Pipeline
Bid Bid
Week Week
This for This for This
Week Jul Week Jul Week

South -- -- 5.89 6.37 6.09
North -- -- -- -- 5.92

ROCKY MOUNTAINS 3.22 3.24 3.19 3.21 3.34

NEW MEXICO 5.45 6.05 -- -- 5.62

Gulf Coast,Offshore 6.02 6.76 6.03 6.77 6.09
Gulf Coast,Onshore 6.03 6.61 6.05 6.63 6.11
Central 5.97 N/A 5.97 N/A 6.06
West 5.85 6.33 5.85 6.33 5.92

MID-CONTINENT 5.74 6.00 5.72 5.98 5.84

Gulf Coast,Offshore 6.25 6.82 6.25 6.82 6.32
Gulf Coast,Onshore 6.29 6.84 6.29 6.84 6.36
North 6.20 6.73 6.19 6.72 6.27

MIDWEST -- -- -- -- 6.22

APPALACHIA 6.56 7.22 -- -- 6.67

SOUTHEAST 6.54 7.10 -- -- 6.69

NEW ENGLAND -- -- -- -- 6.97

Composite Delivered
Wellhead to Pipeline
July 23, 2007 6.16 6.38
2007 Outlook 6.95 7.23

July 23, 2007
To Utility
Bid Bid
Week Week
for This for
Jul Week Jul


South 6.57 6.09 6.57
North 6.43 5.97 6.43
ROCKY MOUNTAINS 3.36 3.67 3.69
NEW MEXICO 6.22 5.77 6.37

Gulf Coast, Offshore 6.83 -- --
Gulf Coast, Onshore 6.69 6.26 6.84
Central N/A 6.23 N/A
West 6.40 6.00 6.48
MID-CONTINENT 6.10 6.09 6.21


Gulf Coast,Offshore 6.89 -- --
Gulf Coast,Onshore 6.91 6.47 7.06
North 6.80 6.41 6.94
MIDWEST 6.62 6.25 6.81
APPALACHIA 7.33 6.75 7.42
SOUTHEAST 7.25 6.87 7.45
NEW ENGLAND 7.67 7.01 7.67

12-Month Strip
July23, 2007 7.84
2007 Outlook --

Source Citation:"Inexhaustible? Abundant fossil fuels an ever-expanding resource." Natural Gas Week 23.30 (July 23, 2007): 16(1). General OneFile. Gale. Alachua County Library District. 26 Oct. 2009

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