Is Brazil an emerging energy giant?

October 03 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: Beyond   Rating: 9 Hot

Few people think of Brazil as an emerging global energy player. Even the most widely cited future of energy scenarios do not put Brazil into the elite group of energy resource-rich nations.

While it is best known for its domestically produced sugarcane ethanol, Brazil’s real source of energy wealth and future geopolitical power is likely to come from exports of oil and natural gas extracted from its deepwater reserves.

Energy pundits are now tracking early indicators hinting that Brazil is awakening to its full potential as a uniquely diversified energy economy growing around traditional hydrocarbon resources while simultaneously expanding its own renewables and bio energy solutions. Brazil’s rise as a global energy powerhouse will take decades to unfold, but it might turn out to be one of the more interesting geopolitical energy stories of the next century.

Who might follow in Anadarko’s footsteps
On Thursday, Houston, Texas-based Andarko announced a successful deepwater field discovery offshore of Brazil in its Campos Basin region. This could be the beginning of a string of announcements to come from energy majors tapping the deepwater oil fields of Brazil.

Announcements are likely to come from companies based around the world. Everyone is looking to partner with Brazil in advancing deepwater drilling and securing access to their growing reserves. While the general public might see the oil industry organized neatly into brand names like BP, Shell, Exxon and Chevron, the reality is that these companies are all betting on each other. Most projects have a lead company, but the financial risk is spread with smaller stakes held by competitors and specialized development firms.

Brazil’s emergence as an energy giant might be quiet, but they are not going to do it alone. Now that it has overcome the technical challenges of deepwater drilling, it must navigate the complex geopolitical landscape of energy politics.

Brazil: Deepwater brings new opportunities & challenges

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Energy startups see plenty of room for innovation at the bottom

July 28 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Environment   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

By Garry Golden

What makes QuantumSphere and A123Systems two of the most innovative energy companies in the world?

Because they are investing in the future design of catalysts! And their strategy is to innovate at the nanoscale.

The Beginning of Nano

Physicist Richard Feynman is often credited with launching the ‘nanoscale’ era of engineering with his famous lecture ‘Plenty of Room at the Bottom’ at Caltech in 1959. Feynman described our future ability to manipulate individual atoms and eventually create complex mechanical structures made of the fundamental molecules.

Fifty years after Feynman’s lecture, researchers and startups are making significant progress in designing nanoscale structured materials that will have an enormous impact on all aspects of the energy industry from production, to storage to end use delivery.

What is disruptive about catalysts?

Simply put, catalysts help us get more output with less energy input. Catalysts speed up the reaction of photo-, chemical and electrochemical changes in everything from batteries, fuel cells, and solar cells, to the refining of coal, gasoline, diesel, and natural gas, and the production of hydrogen and biofuels. Catalysts also help to reduce the energy required to create plastics, biomaterials, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizer.

The rules of the energy industry game are being re-written by companies designing synthetic metal and carbon-based catalysts that change our notions of what is possible in the years ahead. Other companies are attempting to harness, or mimic, naturally occurring bio-catalysts that gracefully manipulate energy in all living things from algae/bacteria to plants to human beings.

Catalysts are the silent work horses of our modern world but you seldom, if ever, hear or see the word mentioned in mainstream conversations about energy. Yet they hold the key to unlocking human potential without draining the planet’s resources. Catalysts can help realize the vision of a world powered by cheap, abundant, clean energy. (Continued)

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Interactive US Energy Map

September 26 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Environment   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

Here is a simple but wonderful visual tool for understanding the landscape of US energy resources- electricity grid, natural gas lines, solar potential, biomass potential, et al.

We are looking for a global map if anyone wants to forward a note!! [Here is an EPA map Google Earth plug-in, Thanks Sandy]

MSNBC Energy Map of America

Thank you Venessa!


Image source: MSNBC Energy Map of America

[Blogpinion] Making Cents of Lower Gas Prices

November 24 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 6 Hot

By Joel Greenberg

What Happened?

Gas prices have dropped to under $2/gal at some gas stations around the country. “It feels like the 1970’s, with people waiting in line for gas,” one observer says as she waited to fill up at almost half the price of what she was paying earlier in the year. But unlike the ‘70’s (or two months ago) there now seems to be plenty of supply.

So why are prices so low, almost two months after gas shortages in places like Atlanta, due primarily to Hurricane Ike? (Click here to read a twitter history of Atlantans and their search for gas.)

The simplest answer appears to be the low demand as a result of the slow down in the economy worldwide, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

As Amory Lovins points out, we can lower our demand faster than Saudi Arabia can lower their production, although his idea is to lower demand with more efficient vehicles, not via a global economic slowdown.

Why is this important to the Future of Energy?

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Why natural gas will never bring 'energy independence' to the US and European Union

November 19 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

It is impossible to talk about the future of energy without giving serious consideration to the role of natural gas as a 21st century resource. And it should not be a surprise! The case made by energy historians is that human civilization has been gradually moving away from dirty carbon rich fuels like wood and coal towards cleaner hydrogen rich fossil fuels of petroleum and natural gas. The next step for civilization is to grow our own energy supplies and reduce reliance on extracting reserves. (But we’re not there yet!!)

Even as leaders from the US and the European Union boldly focus on efforts to get off their ‘oil dependency’ their domestic utility providers, energy giants and chemical companies are opening the spigot for natural gas supplies that often come from the same oil rich regions. Natural gas is arguably the most complicated and overlooked piece of our future energy puzzle.

What happened?
We now have an updated picture of what is happening inside the United States. The Energy Information Administration has posted a web based presentation looking at expansions to the country’s natural gas pipeline network over the last decade [Link launches web based PPT].

The presentation looks at the last ten years of laying more than 20,000 miles of new transmission pipeline (97 billion cubic ft/day capacity) that has opened up access to new new supplies from Canada and the Gulf Region that feed natural-gas-fired electric power plants, factories and homes. [We will feature Europe’s pipeline in another post.]

Why is this important to the future of energy?
The world’s largest natural gas reserves are of course located within today’s oil-rich nations like Russia, Iran, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabi, Nigeria, and Venezuela.

While The Pickens Plan paints a picture of vast US supplies, they are tiny relative to global production capacities outside US borders. And Europe is already committed to connecting its power plants to resources from neighboring regions.

Coal might be challenged by carbon policies, oil is likely to hit a production plateau—but natural gas might just be getting started as a global industry.

What to Watch: The Petro Product poker hand

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Suncor-Petro Merger Signal of Canada’s Expanding Global Role And Plans For Tar Sands

March 26 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 2

Suncor Tar Sands

Canada is starting to flex its muscle as a major player in the world of energy around non-conventional hydrocarbon resources.

This week, Suncor, the number two producer of tar sands, will merge with Petro-Canada. The new energy giant Canadian company could become an expert in developing less environmentally damaging methods for utilizing non-conventional resources in North America and around the world.  

The combined company will have ‘approximately 7.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) of proved (developed and undeveloped) and probable reserves, on top of an estimated contingent resource base of approximately 19 billion boe.   It will also have significant refining capacity of 433,000 barrels per day (b/d) and a strong Canadian retail brand in Suncor.'

Preempting the Inevitable Contraction of the Hydrocarbon Sector
Energy analysts expect a wave of mergers as companies find it difficult to grow reserve assets through traditional exploration and development.  Cash rich companies might find it easier to expand reserve totals by acquisition.

Future sucess might also be based on an ability to develop non-conventional resources like carbon-heavy 'tar sands' and deep water reserves. So for Canada's leading energy companies it was important to merge before being acquired.

According to Suncor CEO Rick George "The combined portfolio boasts the largest oil sands resource position, a strong Canadian downstream brand, solid conventional exploration and production assets, and low-cost production from Canada's east coast and internationally."

Canada's Vision as a Resource Giant

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Ground breaking 'Dry water' method developed to store natural gas in a powder

December 08 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2020   Rating: 1

methaneHave you ever held natural gas in your hand?

“It ('dry water') looks like a powder, but if you wipe it on your skin, it smears and feels cold” says Andrew Cooper University of Liverpool, UK 

What happened?
Chemists at the University of Liverpool have developed a reliable way of converting methane gas into a powder form in order to make it more transportable.

The researchers use a white powder material made of a mixture of silica and water to soak up large quantities of methane molecules.

Liverpool researchers believe that instead of shipping methane as a 'gas' or 'liquid' (LNG) we can transport it as a powder.  It is also possible to use solid natural gas storage being used for electric vehicles that use fuel cells that convert natural gas (on board) into electricity.

Easier method to make store methane in a powder

It does not make sense to store all natural gas as a solid, but the market opportunities are sdry waterignificant.  The challenge of methane gas hydrate has been that it is formed at a very slow rate when methane reacts with water under pressure.  "To counteract these difficulties we used a method to break water up into tiny droplets to increase the surface area in contact with the gas. We did this by mixing water with a special form of silica – a similar material to sand – which stops the water droplets from coalescing.

This 'dry water' powder soaks up large quantities of methane quite rapidly at around water's normal freezing point."The team also found that 'dry water' could be more economical than other potential products because it is made from cheap raw materials.

Why is this important to the future?
Storing gas as a solid?

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Top Energy Stories of 2008. #4 From $147 to $50: The Price of Oil

December 16 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

The high price of oil fueled the political debate about energy and made alternatives appear attractive.  But as the economy collapsed and with the it the price of oil, it remains to be seen if investment in alternatives will continue at a robust pace.

What will happen to the price of oil when the economy recovers in the US and abroad?

Cheap Gasoline

Photo courtesy of geocam20000.

Do you think the price of a gallon of regular gas will rise significantly by April 1st, 2009?

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