Monday, April 5, 2010

Amazing, Simply Amazing

<$BlogMetaData$>April 7th, 2010

Amazing, Simply Amazing

You know, the longer I research and write about oil, the more confused I get. This last week has been a plethora of oil news, and if you believe half of what you read you just want to go out and shoot yourself in the foot and get it over with.

First is the news that Iowa gets more than half its oil from Canada. Gary Mar who represents Alberta at the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C. says "We're your friends, and we are a good, dependable source of oil compared to the Middle East," However The environmental battles in the Upper Midwest and Canada over extracting oil from Canadian oil sands and expanding pipelines could have a strong impact on the region's energy economy. (Oh right, like this is causing gas prices to skyrocket!)

The Alberta oil is refined at the Flint Hills refinery in the Twin Cities suburb of Rosemount, Minn., and the BP refinery in the Chicago suburb of Whiting, Ind. It's sent to Iowa directly from Minnesota or west through Wood River, Ill., near St. Louis, through central Missouri and then north to the BP terminal in Clive.

The Minnesota and Indiana refineries, along with most others in the Great Lakes area, have retrofitted themselves in recent years to refine the heavy crude that comes from Canada instead of the lighter oil from Texas.

Long-term planners would like to build a refinery at Sioux Falls, S.D. The proposed Hyperion Refinery already has passed a local vote but still has legal and financial hurdles."But Hyperion would also refine Canada's heavy crude, which would serve the Iowa market," said John Kerekes, central region director for the American Petroleum Institute. (Is NOT IN MY LIFETIME a good definition of long term?)

On the 28th, comes an article in the Denver Post – Energy Company eyes Utah’s oil sands. Earth Energy, A company from Alberta, Canada wants to start mining tar sands in the Uintah county of Utah. (OK what’s going on here?) Now get this. This company is trying to raise a paltry $35 Million to finance mining of tar sands in Utah but admits it could be tough because private equity groups turned skittish after the 2008 economic meltdown. (And Hyperion is trying to raise $10 Billion ????) they said “Until we raise our capital, we are unable to proceed with the project in any major way, but the minute we do, we are fully prepared and committed to advance,” said D. Glen Snarr, President and Chief Financial Officer. (Sounds like a quote from Al Huddleston, except that he told Elk Point mayor Trobough he had the money and she believed him.)

Now hold on here, the United States (Hyperion) is going press-to-test to import tar sands from Canada and here is a Canadian company wanting to mine tar sands in the United States. This is just getting goofey. University of Utah chemical engineering professor Phillip Smith says ‘Wringing oil from hard rock or oil sands is technically possible, but nobody has proven it economical on a large scale yet.’

Bear in mind now, these guys are talking about tar sands in Montana and Utah. These reserves have been estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to contain over one trillion barrels of oil. Starting in 2006 the federal government awarded small plots of lands for experimental works that have yet to produce any meaningful quantities of oil. Oil shale is said to be ‘rich’ when it contains 30 gallons of petroleum for each ton of rock, but pound for pound that amounts to only 1/10th of the energy of liquid crude oil.

And one wonders why those of us who are against Hyperion keep saying this will never happen.

Now here is the Coupe de Gras. In Saturday’s Sioux City Journal, buried back in the local/business section of the paper on page A5 is an article - Study: US. Refineries have bad safety record: (Oh My God, you’ve got to be kidding me. Really?)

U.S. oil refineries have an ongoing problem with accidents that turn deadly, losing four times as much money from such incidents than refineries in the rest of the world, according to an insurance company report obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

The problem is highlighted by a deadly string of explosions, including one that killed four people Friday at a Tesoro Corp. refinery in Washington state, federal officials said. (actually it was 5 killed and 2 injured, but the article is about how much money was lost – Really?)

The blast at the Tesoro plant north of Seattle killed 5 people and injured 2.the blast was felt more than a mile away. Folks, this is a refinery that only produces 20,000 barrels a day and the blast was felt a mile away. There was a refinery explosion in Utah last November that was felt 18 miles away. I think this is getting close to home now. I don’t know about you, but I only live 6 miles away from the proposed site and this bothers me even more. These accidents seem to be a regular occurrence and the one on Good Friday wasn’t even in the Sioux City Journal. Come on guys, let’s get going here. BP had an explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people and injured 170. Oh, but this is just normal routine in this risky business right? And people want to have a refinery built in Union County?

I’m going to close with a quote by Charlton Heston when he was elected president of the NRA. “I’ll give up this rifle when they pry if from my cold, cold hands.”


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