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March 03, 2006



>>environmentally sound use of fossil fuels.<<

Doesn't that mean we don't burn them? Sure, let's use oil for (truly) recyclable plastics and fibres, but not for fuel.



Nice idea, but we're decades from being able to do that. At present renewables can only provide a small fraction of worldwide fuel use. Maybe we'll get there once algal oil becomes viable, but in the meantime petroleum is all we have.


Yes Cervus, we may be decades away from a sustainable energy future, but a continued reliance on fossil fuels enabled by enhanced oil recovery will delay the innovation necessary to make such a future real.

"would you rather pay $100/bbl for oil?" asks Jim. I say certainly! Necessity is the mother of invention and there's simply little incentive to make the innovations necessary to transition to a sustainable energy future while we still have access to cheap supplies of readily available hydrocarbons.

Additionally, I don't much like the idea of pumping out tens or hundreds of billions of new oil supplies under the pretense of 'mitigating global warming' through carbon sequestration for EOR. Even if the CO2 stays sequestered, burning all of that oil will offset the benefits of sequestering that CO2.

Remember, fossil fuels ARE sequestered CO2! Pumping them out of the ground and burning them is exactly what got us into this situation and mining coal to burn and then sequestering that CO2 to get more oil to burn doesn't help much at all. True CO2 sequestration can't result in additional carbon being mined/pumped out of the ground or it defeats the whole purpose.

Idaho National Labs has been exploring the possibility of sequestering CO2 in basalt, rather than in sedementary formations (i.e. oil/gas deposits and saline aquafers). This could be one way to truly sequester our CO2, but it's going to be expensive and NO ONE will do it until there is sufficient economic incentive.

This points again to the necessity of a carbon tax or a carbon cap-and-trade system that gives us an economic incentive to actually reduce our CO2 emissions. Until that happens, the only sequestration that will happen is the kind that is used for EOR as there is profit to be made there. That is, until that happens, little progress will be made in reducing CO2 emissions.


It is not entirely clear from the article whether the 89 billion barrels is a possibility at least in the medium term - say about 10 years from now. Or is it just just the proverbial question of putting old wine in a new bottle?

Another question I have is the recovery of diesel from coal. I understand that there have been some recent advances that make this an economical process. If diesel from coal becomes an economically sustainable possibility, suddenly the entire fossil fuel economics change! USA has the largest amount of coal deposites, followed by Russia, China & India! But the question in this regard again is the same: is the new invention just words or does it really mean something practically?

The third question is biodiesel from algae. It has been mentioned by another commentator, and it sure seems to have potential, but from what I underdstand it has not been tried out on a large scale. A site, Oilgae.com - Oil from Algae does provide some useful inputs in this regard, but does not really tell us how possible and nearby is large-scale production of oil from algae...

I'm just left wondering..

Ec from IT


There is also a plant starting up in Arizona/New Mexico that should prove to boost the US into one of the largest CO2/Helium suppliers as well.

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