Fossil Fuels – At any cost??

Recently I read about “Petcoke” – something I have heard about but never paid much attention to before. And as it seems, I am not alone. Petcoke is a carbonaceous solid derived from oil refinery coker units or other cracking processes. I checked this a little more, turns out it is frequently treated as a “residue-product” and therefore it is not included in the same regulatory-procedures as fossil-fuels….?

Alberta Tar sands

Alberta Tar sands, photo: AP

Alberta Tar sands – Now with +13% extra CO2-emissions

When looking at the extraction of tar sand in Alberta, Canada and also in the Orinoco river basin, Venezuela, it seems that even though the extraction of these fossil-fuel resources by themselves results in a much higher CO2-emission per litre of useable oil then “traditional” oil, the residue-product has not been included in the equation!?

Since Petcoke has a >40% higher emission compared to gasoline when it is burned and since the cracking of tar-sand produces an astonishing amount* of this… It is BAD NEWS; the tar-sand extraction is even worse then anticipated!

*/ The proven tar sands reserves of Canada will yield roughly 5 billion tons of petcoke – enough to fully fuel 111 US coal plants to 2050[!] A ton of petcoke yields on average 53.6% more CO2 than a ton of conventional coal and significantly more toxic pollutants as well. Essentially, wherever petcoke is used as fuel it generally is making a dirty process even dirtier.

The total global market for petroleum coke (petcoke) is relatively small in size, but it is valued at EUR 6,7-8 Bn. It is caught between the demands of five other industries – oil refining, electricity generation, cement, steel, and aluminium. In terms of trade, over the last three to four years, Asian buyers have taken advantage of competitive freight rates and lower petroleum coke prices to use petroleum coke as a cheaper source of fuel than coal. Prior to this, US and Venezuelan petroleum coke was mainly shipped to cement companies in the Atlantic Basin.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Peak oil theories ‘increasingly groundless’, says BP chief

BP predicts that by 2030, the US will be self-sufficient in energy, with only 1% coming from imports. That would be a remarkable turnaround for a country that as recently as 2005, before the shale gas boom, was one of the biggest global oil importers.

Christof Rühl, chief economist at BP Group, said other countries could mimic the US in shale only if they put the right conditions in place: “Vast unconventional reserves have been unlocked in the US, with oil production following gas. This delivery has been made possible not only by the resources and technology, but also by ‘above-ground’ factors such as a strong and competitive service sector, land access facilitated by private ownership, liquid markets and favourable regulatory terms.”

What is it that I am missing here – What is it that I don’t understand….?

Oooh! Now I see – it is because I don’t want a landscape like the picture above, because I want to be able to breathe the air without a face-mask, because I want to hear birds sing and be able to enjoy the wonders of our planet with all it’s diversity – and that I want my kids to be able to do so as well! – That is why I don’t understand why other countries should mimic the fossil-fuel companies behaviour….

But what do I know, I’m just a “country-boy”….