In a three volume report that a DOE Task Force prepared it was concluded that "the domestic and global fuels supply situation and outlook is urgent. Increasing global oil demand, declining reserve additions, and our increasing reliance on oil and product imports from unstable foreign sources require the Nation to take immediate action to catalyze a domestic unconventional fuels industry." It further went on to say "Aggressive development by private industry, and encouraged by government, could supply all of the Department of Defense’s domestic fuels demand by 2016, and supply upwards of 7 million barrels per day of domestically produced liquid fuels to domestic markets by 2035." Their most aggressive scenario concluded that oil imports would decrease if significant efficiency gains were made. The following is a shortened summary of the report from EV World. (click to enlarge graph)
The United States' Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels (www.unconventionalfuels.org) has made public its findings and recommendations on the future role to be played by five non-petroleum energy sources found in America: shale oil, heavy crude, tar sands, coal-to-liquids and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) using captured carbon dioxide.. . .
The Task Force . . . takes a comprehensive look at the potential contribution these, heretofore under-utilized resources can make in supplementing the nation's declining petroleum production. They conclude that even under the most aggressive development scenario, these resources could produce about 7.6 million barrels a day of synthetic liquid fuel by 2035. And under current, business-as-usual, conditions -- and assuming a whole host of issues from socioeconomic to technical can be resolved -- unconventional fuels might add 2.3 mbld by 2035, about one-tenth of what America currently consumes. . . .
The contributions made by the various unconventional energy sources under three different utilization scenarios shows America continuing to be largely dependent on imported oil with energy conservation and efficiency making greater contributions then unconventional fuels put together.
The Task Force sees the rationale for encouraging the development of tar sands, shale oil, heavy crude, coal-to-liquid and EOR using captured CO2 being driven by declining conventional oil production in America and the uncertain availability of imports, which raises concerns for national security and economic development. They see increasing global competition with China and India, with the former already signing deals that will siphon off oil out of Venezuela and synthetic crude out of Canada, two important sources to the United States. Unless America can supplement and/or reduce its demand through conservation, oil imports are likely to make up 65% of the nation's consumption by 2030. . . .
Not surprisingly, the Task Force identified conservation and energy efficiency as perhaps the most important tools in addressing the growing gap between energy demand and energy produced.
As previously noted, no single fuel source is likely to be adequate to substantially reduce America’s dependence on imported oil. Even with the production of almost 7 million barrels per day of incremental supply by 2035, unconventional fuels development would only slightly reduce the volume of net imports, after offsetting expected demand growth. As such, reducing demand must also be part of the nation’s overall strategy for lowering imports and achieving greater self sufficiency
"The most likely place for efficiency gains relative to liquid fuels," continues the report, "is in the individual transportation sector. It is assumed that expected efficiency gains in aircraft, trucks, and industrial uses have already been accounted for in the AEO base case. To achieve this objective the public will need to become part of the solution."
The report lists the following requirements to achieve this:
- Increasing miles per gallon (MPG), through improved engine and vehicle efficiency and consumer choices
- Reducing miles driven, by changing habits, proximity to work, etc and
- Reducing the number of people driving which is a function of total population, carpooling, mass transit, etc . . .
Finally, while the report talks about the economic benefits that result from creation of all these new jobs and infrastructure, it spends virtually no time discussing the environmental impact of extracting these fuels, simply leaving the question to be resolved by technology, as if moving mountains, consuming vast amounts of energy while polluting the air and water (both surface and ground) is hardly worth worrying about.
My interpretation was that while the above statement is true, it was not the primary scope of the Task Force to do so and the report stated that "It is neither the intent nor the recommendation of this Task Force for “streamlining” to circumvent or dilute any environmental standard or regulation, but, rather, to make the permitting process more efficient and predictable." Similar statements were used several times throughout the report. It does, in Volume II, have a 10 page section on how to manage the additional CO2 that will be created by harvesting these unconventional fuels and an 18 page section on environmental concerns.
The report fails to mention the possible reduction in liquid fuel consumption that would be achieved through wide adoption of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles which could make a major impact.