Friday, March 23, 2012

CO2 from natural gas is not 50% compared to coal

RE:March 23 "Gas industry tackles issues on "fracking" Financial Post

Travis Davies of CAPP states that natural gas burns 50% cleaner than coal. What do we mean by cleaner? The reference is to carbon emissions. The article goes on to say ... AND natural gas emits less nitrous oxides and sulphurous oxides. Perhaps if the SO's and the NO's are included with the carbon and the shorter term pollutive effects are combined with the longer term CO2 effects them somehow we could say the overall effect of burning natural gas vs coal is 50% cleaner but this is all very misleading. There's more to it than just burning. Yes natural gas burns cleaner in terms of pollutants that exist in the atmosphere for less than 2 years but the reference and the bigger concern is the CO2. Natural gas is not 50% less carbon intense than coal even just in terms of burning it. The number is much higher and depends on the usage. Natural gas doesn't burn as hot so more energy from natural gas is needed to produce electricity compared to coal for example. When natural gas is converted to liquid natural gas and transported the carbon footprint jumps even further. The article talks about the lack of regulation in the natural gas extraction industry. Its the lack of enforced regulations that lead to sloppy practices where methane leaks from well heads especially between the fracking and extraction processes and some studies have indicated the possibility that when this effect is included in equivalent CO2 terms with transportation effects never mind LNG compression that in fact the case can be made that natural gas from fracking is no less carbon intense than coal. The loosely used fraction of 50% is very irresponsible. Its really a key number because if we truly could reduce carbon emissions by 50% using natural gas vs coal then we'd be very motivated to move forward in a mad rush to exploit this resource...sort of like we are in the western provinces with no pressure to enforce or improve regulations. If low cost natural gas is going to delay the movement toward a renewable energy future then let's at least stop pretending that the need for monitoring and enforceable regulations in this industry are not critical. You don't have to leak much methane from a wellhead before you negate all the equivalent CO2 benefits of natural gas vs coal or oil sands oil.

OIl and Gas subsidies do so exist!

March 23, 2012
Re: Oil and gas industry does not receive federal subsidies by Tom Huffaker of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

I checked the facts in this article and found that the Greenpeace sponsored report being dis-credited is in fact a report on the economic effect of subsidies not on the existence of subsidies. 63 subsidies in total in the form of tax breaks and reduced royalties are mostly intended to increase exploration and development . The Canadian federal gov't provided 1.38 billion and provinces shared the balance of the total of 2.84 billion last year. There is no disputing these facts in either competing report. The study Mr Huffaker quotes that supposedly debunks the Greenpeace sponsored report argues the effect of subsidies not the existence of the subsidies. The CAPP is consistently guilty of mis-stating the facts about the effects of our continued overusage of fossil fuels and why? There is no threat from renewables, not with natural gas prices at all time lows. If the fossil fuel industries truly want to be more transparent they first need to stop pretending that the issues don't exist. Its not their fault we're burning up the planet. Its a collective problem and we need to work together to right the ship for the next generations. Let's stop pretending oil and gas exploration isn't subsidized by government in an attempt to keep fossil fuel costs down so we can all enjoy the benefits of burning up the planet today in exchange for frying our children tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Natural gas presents BC with challenges, opportunities
Vancouver Sun March 6, 2012-03-06

The newspaper’s article points out that if the US uses coal to power its LNG compression activities it will defeat the exercise. What exercise? The movement away from fossil fuels to reduce our carbon footprint? This exercise is economic not environmental. There is in fact a carbon advantage to LNG extracted from shale fields with hydraulic fracking, compressed and exported as long as we pretend the carbon equivalent of the methane leakage at well heads is minimized. (Howarth et al Cornell University). There is no reason to believe anyone is too worried that a few billion tons of pure invisible odourless methane leaking from well heads is worth regulating or policing too closely as we try to compete with Qatar and now the US in the rush to satisfy China’s current need for LNG. Its human nature to sell ourselves on the idea that all this newfound LNG is an environmental savior compared to coal fired electricity. Let’s pretend natural gas is not a fossil fuel and extracting, compressing, transporting, and burning it are somehow transitioning ourselves to an alternate energy future. The alternate energy goals of the future that will allow our children to play outdoors are contingent upon our willingness to pay a price, make an investment, and the economics of natural gas should be seen for what they are, a stumbling block, on the road to the future we all agree we want. Cheap natural gas is taking away a big chunk of the investment in the future of renewable energy with very little if any benefit in terms of carbon.

The newspaper’s view is also that SITE C makes even more sense given the fact we need more clean hydro electricity to compress all this natural gas but in fact all the water from SITE C will be used up in the fracking process as we try to extract more and more natural gas from shale fields.

Ken Wright
604 298 7095