Recently in Energy Category

Seriously? For fsck's sake - Middle East

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If it was not for their oil reserves, these nations would be nothing. From Zero Hedge:

Oil To Hit $100? Half Of Saudi Oil Output Shut After Drone Strikes Cripple World's Largest Oil Processing Facility
Update: The WSJ is out with an update hinting at just how much the price of oil is set to soar when trading reopens late on Sunday after the Saudi Houthi false-flag drone attack on the largest Saudi oil processing plant:

Saudi Arabia is shutting down about half of its oil output after apparently coordinated drone strikes hit Saudi production facilities, people familiar with the matter said, in what Yemen’s Houthi rebels described as one of their largest-ever attacks inside the kingdom.

The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about five million barrels a day, the people said, roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil. The kingdom produces 9.8 million barrels a day.

And while Aramco is assuring it can restore output quickly, in case it can't the world is looking at a production shortfall of as much as 150MM barrels monthly, which - all else equal - could send oil soaring into the triple digits. Just what the Aramco IPO ordered.

And a bit more:

Fires burned into the morning daylight hours, with explosions also reported at the Khurais oil field, in what the Houthis said was a successful attack involving ten drones. "These attacks are our right, and we warn the Saudis that our targets will keep expanding," a rebel military spokesman said on Houthi-operated Al Masirah TV.

Glad to hear that President Trump is opening up ANWR to drilling. Now if we would just go forward with nuclear, things would be wonderful and we could kiss that 9th century culture goodbye.

Great news - new power reactors

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Wonderful news - I love this current administration. From Neutron Bytes:

Idaho National Lab Gets DOE Charter for Test and Demonstration of Advanced Reactors
In the late 1940s the federal government established the National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS) at a site on the dusty volcanic plain of the Arco desert about 50 miles west of Idaho Falls, ID. Now some 70 years later the government has again turned to the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to create the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC).

The new initiative will support the development of advanced nuclear energy technologies by harnessing the world-class capabilities of the DOE national laboratory system. It will be a test and demonstration center for these technologies and it will involve public / private partnerships with firms that want to bring these technologies to a mature enough level to attract investors and customers.

NRIC will be led by Idaho National Laboratory and builds upon the successes of DOE’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative. GAIN connects industry with the national labs to accelerate the development and commercialization of advanced nuclear technologies. NRIC will coordinate with industry, other federal institutions, the national labs, and universities on testing and demonstrating these concepts.

The NRIC will provide private sector technology developers the necessary support to test and demonstrate their reactor concepts and assess their performance. This will help accelerate the licensing and commercialization of these new nuclear energy systems.

Nuclear is the way to go for power generation. alt.energy is a stupid rathole. This is fantastic news.

Great news - England and Energy

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Wonderful - from the Mirror:

Tories plan mini-nuclear reactors for the North in major change to energy policy
A series of mini-nuclear reactors could be built across the North in a major power scheme.

Plants could generate energy in Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire under a project spearheaded by Rolls-Royce for “small modular reactors”.

The Government is pumping in £18 million so the firm can develop the design of the reactors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to formally announce the plan in September and the first plant could be up and running within the next 15 years.

Good news - of all the "traditional" designs, SMRs are the very best of the lot. This is what the US and Russian navies have been doing for their ships and submarines. My personal choice would be for liquid thorium but that is another technology to be developed although we had a bunch of them back in the 1960's.. Thorium does not go Ka-boom like uranium and the 1960's was the height of the atomic weapons race and the US decided to not operate two nuclear supply chains. Uranium is about as common as platinum in the earth's crust; and about as expensive. Thorium is about as common as lead. Dirt cheap.

Seeing the light - Michael Moore

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Great news from journalist Don Surber:

Michael Moore grows up
Michael Moore finally grew up. He now realizes Captain Planet was just a front man for green energy boondoggles paid for by taxpayers.

The Associated Press reported, "What if alternative energy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? That’s the provocative question explored in the documentary Planet of the Humans, which is backed and promoted by filmmaker Michael Moore and directed by one of his longtime collaborators. It premiered last week at his Traverse City Film Festival.

"The film, which does not yet have distribution, is a low-budget but piercing examination of what the filmmakers say are the false promises of the environmental movement and why we’re still “addicted” to fossil fuels.

"Director Jeff Gibbs takes on electric cars, solar panels, windmills, biomass, biofuel, leading environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club, and even figures from Al Gore and Van Jones, who served as Barack Obama’s special adviser for green jobs, to 350.org leader Bill McKibben, a leading environmentalist and advocate for grassroots climate change movements."

This looks like an interesting movie - the facts are pesky. alt.energy is not economically viable without huge taxpayer-funded subsidies. Nuclear (modern designs) are incredibly safe and cheap to build. The whole alternative energy movement has been a political scam from day one. Some people got very rich off it.

England's new Prime Minister

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Liking the cut of his jib - from the UK Times and Star:

New PM Boris Johnson supports calls for a nuclear renaissance
On his first day addressing his new Government, Copeland MP Trudy Harrison asked him: “Does the Prime Minister agree that the time is now for a nuclear renaissance and that Copeland is the centre of nuclear excellence?”

Mr Johnson replied: “It is time for a nuclear renaissance and I believe passionately that nuclear must be part of our energy mix and she is right to campaign for it and it will help us to meet our carbon targets.”

It comes in the week that the Government also launched a consultation into funding large-scale nuclear power stations and a proposed £18million investment into small modular reactors (SMR).

Wonderful - if you are going to use conventional technologies, the SMR is by far the best way to go. Other forms of alt.energy are totally impractical and very bad for the environment when looking at the whole picture.

Yes! More nuclear

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Great news from the Idaho News:

Plan to build first small US nuclear reactors in Idaho advances
A plan to build the nation's first small modular nuclear reactors to produce commercial power is a step closer.

A Utah-based energy cooperative said Wednesday that it has sales contracts for enough carbon-free power to begin a license application process with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build the reactors in eastern Idaho.

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems already has agreements with the U.S. Department of Energy to build the reactors at the federal agency's 890-square-mile (2,300-square-kilometer) site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory.

A small modular nuclear reactor can produce about 60 megawatts, or enough to power more than 50,000 homes. The proposed project includes 12 small modular reactors.

The energy cooperative says it has carbon-free contracts for more than 150 megawatts. Its goal is to begin construction on the reactors in 2023.

The down side is that these are conventional reactors - 60 year old designs with the attendant problems.

The up side is that these are a lot smaller than the 1,200 megawatt units that are being built. If something goes wrong, things move a lot slower so it will be easier to correct. Plus, by using a lot of small cheap identical cores, you have the same redundancy that the US Navy enjoys. They use a lot of identical cores and if there is an issue with a coolant pump bearing or such, they figure out a solution and replace all of them. End of problem. The Navy's safety record is spotless.

My ideal nuke is a LFTR but that is a different story.

Fusion power in the news

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From technology website The Drive:

Skunk Works' Exotic Fusion Reactor Program Moves Forward With Larger, More Powerful Design
Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works is building a new, more capable test reactor as it continues to move ahead with its ambitious Compact Fusion Reactor program, or CFR. Despite slower than expected progress, the company remains confident the project can produce practical results, which would completely transform how power gets generated for both military and civilian purposes.

Aviation Week was first to report the updates on the CFR program, including that Lockheed Martin is in the process of constructing its newest experimental reactor, known as the T5, on July 19, 2019. The company's legendary California-based Skunk Works advanced projects office is in charge of the effort and had already built four different test reactor designs, as well as a number of subvariants, since the program first became public knowledge in 2014. The War Zone has been following news of this potentially revolutionary program very closely in recent years.

A lot more at the site - I love that this research is being privatly funded and that this fifth unit is large enough to be self-sustaining. Nuclear is the way to go for energy generation. All of the alt.energy sources (wind / solar) are just pissing taxpayer money away and are worse for the environment than coal.

Sticking it to Russia - oil

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Russia is a cash-poor nation. Their only real source of hard currency is their oil exports to Europe. From Marine Link:

U.S. Oil Makes it to Ukraine, a blow to Moscow
U.S. crude exports are gaining traction in Europe as even Ukraine turns into a significant consumer of American barrels at the expense of Russian supplies amid heightened U.S. political pressure on Moscow and problems over contaminated Russian oil.

Ukraine this month received its first ever barrels from the United States, according to Refinitiv Eikon flows data, as the tanker Wisdom Venture unloaded 80,000 tonnes of Bakken crude in Odessa on July 6 for the Kremenchug refinery, the port said.

Russia often struggles to export oil from the Black Sea via the narrow Turkish Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits due to congestion, making the arrival of the U.S. crude into the Black Sea from the Mediterranean even more extraordinary.

The oil was sold by BP to Ukrtatnafta, sources said, adding Ukrtatnafta will receive a further similar amount of U.S. crude around July 24, and more purchases were likely in August.

Yeah - President Trump and Vladimir Putin were in collusion. Riiiiggghhhhtttt... Trump is drinking Vlad's milkshake and there is not a thing that Pooty-poot can do about it.

Morons in California

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What idiots - from the East Bay Express:

That Old Gas Stove Is Not Your Friend
As the United States has begun transitioning away from the use of coal and petroleum as a source of electricity and fuel, natural gas has been viewed as a relatively benign fossil fuel. After all, natural gas produces less carbon dioxide when burned than those other fossil fuels. It remains the energy source in about half of California's buildings.

But scientists have increasingly warned that methane, the main component of natural gas, is itself a key heat-trapping gas — 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the first twenty years after release, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. In addition to the carbon dioxide created by its burning, the inevitable leaks as natural gas is extracted and shipped, make gas a serious climate threat in its own right.

State policy calls for the electrification of buildings — the source of about 10 percent of California's greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from natural gas. Several state agencies and many cities and counties are working on a variety of programs to promote electrification. But none have gone as far as the ordinance scheduled to come before the Berkeley City Council on July 9.

Once again, the City of Berkeley is considering a groundbreaking environmental policy: This time it's a ban on natural gas hookups in all new buildings, starting January 1, 2020.

Aside from the fact that a flame is a lot better to cook on than an electric hob (better heat control), are they seriously proposing electric resistance heating for cooking. Don't they realize that 70% of the electricity in this nation comes from coal and 25%+ from the combination of nuke, hydro and natural gas turbines. About 3% of this nation's electricity comes from "renewables" and it is our tax dollars that are paying the subsidies to make these work. Burn coal to cook food. Stupid self-centered idiots.

From Associated Press:

Arizona fire highlights challenges for energy storage
Arizona’s largest electric company installed massive batteries near neighborhoods with a large number of solar panels, hoping to capture some of the energy from the afternoon sun to use after dark.

Arizona Public Service has been an early adopter of battery storage technology seen as critical for the wider deployment of renewable energy and for a more resilient power grid.

But an April fire and explosion at a massive battery west of Phoenix that sent eight firefighters and a police officer to the hospital highlighted the challenges and risks that can arise as utilities prepare for the exponential growth of the technology.

Sure - capture magic pixies from the sun and store them in a battery that can blow up if mishandled and requires lots of toxic chemicals and rare earth elements to build. Great idea there poindexter...

Madness in New York State - climate

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The stupid is strong with these people - from The New York Times:

New York to Approve One of the World’s Most Ambitious Climate Plans
New York lawmakers have agreed to pass a sweeping climate plan that calls for the state to all but eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, envisioning an era when gas-guzzling cars, oil-burning heaters and furnaces would be phased out, and all of the state’s electricity would come from carbon-free sources.

Under an agreement reached this week between legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act would require the state to slash its planet-warming pollution 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and offset the remaining 15 percent, possibly through measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

This is so stupid - it burns! There is no carbon-free source of energy with the exception of Nuclear - clean and safe nuclear. The basic designs of the reactors in use today were sketched out on cocktail napkins over 60 years ago. There are newer and much much safer technologies out there. Wind and solar are not baseload - they vary with the weather and clouds. For every 1,000MW of wind turbines out there, there is also a 1,000MW natural gas turbine generator running on hot-standby.

As for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? They are seriously proposing to remove plant food from the environment? CO2 is one of the key ingredients of photosynthesis - No CO2, no plants.

No mention is made if they will also ban outside sources of electricity and some high-carbon materials (beef, steel, etc...)

alt.energy in the news

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Sobering dose of reality from Germany by way of Forbes Magazine:

The Reason Renewables Can't Power Modern Civilization Is Because They Were Never Meant To
Over the last decade, journalists have held up Germany’s renewables energy transition, the Energiewende, as an environmental model for the world.

“Many poor countries, once intent on building coal-fired power plants to bring electricity to their people, are discussing whether they might leapfrog the fossil age and build clean grids from the outset,” thanks to the Energiewendewrote a New York Times reporter in 2014.

With Germany as inspiration, the United Nations and World Bank poured billions into renewables like wind, solar, and hydro in developing nations like Kenya.

But then, last year, Germany was forced to acknowledge that it had to delay its phase-out of coal, and would not meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction commitments. It announced plans to bulldoze an ancient church and forest in order to get at the coal underneath it.

Much more at the site. Nice idea but it simply does not pencil out without huge government subsidies (our tax dollars at work). Plus, because it is not a reliable source, the utilities have to maintain a backup generator running all the time on "hot standby" for when the wind dies.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Baker Hughes chooses Permian Basin to debut 'electric frack' technology
Houston oilfield service company Baker Hughes is using the Permian Basin in West Texas to debut a fleet of new turbines that use excess natural gas from a drilling site to power hydraulic fracturing equipment — reducing flaring, carbon dioxide emissions, people and equipment in remote locations.

Flaring is the burning off of unusable gases as a byproduct of oil extraction. What they are planning:

Baker Hughes estimates 500 hydraulic fracturing fleets are deployed in shale basins across the United States and Canada. Most of them are powered by trailer-mounted diesel engines. Each fleet consumes more than 7 million gallons of diesel per year, emits an average of 70,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and require 700,000 tanker truck loads of diesel supplied to remote sites, according to Baker Hughes.

“Electric frack enables the switch from diesel-driven to electrical-driven pumps powered by modular gas turbine generating units,” Simonelli said. “This alleviates several limiting factors for the operator and the pressure pumping company such as diesel truck logistics, excess gas handling, carbon emissions and the reliability of the pressure pumping operation.”

Sounds like win/win to me...

Fun times in California

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The progressives have spent all of their money on social justice programs with little to show for it (human feces, homelessness). The only problem is that this takes money away from basic infrastructure and although you can let things slide for ten years or so, any longer and it will take a lot more money to rebuild than if things were properly maintained in the first place.

Case in point - from Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple.
GOC links to an article at the Wall Street Journal which is now behind a pay-wall:

California Blackouts
California continues to descend into Third World status. The latest step is planned blackouts.

No U.S. utility has ever blacked out so many people on purpose. PG&E says it could knock out power to as much as an eighth of the state’s population for as long as five days when dangerously high winds arise. Communities likely to get shut off worry PG&E will put people in danger, especially the sick and elderly, and cause financial losses with slim hope of compensation.

Blackouts. They’re not for Third World nations anymore, just states run by Dimocrats.

In October, in a test run of sorts, PG&E for the first time cut power to several small communities over wildfire concerns, including the small Napa Valley town of Calistoga, for about two days. Emergency officials raced door-to-door to check on elderly residents, some of whom relied on electric medical devices. Grocers dumped spoiling inventory. Hotels lost business.

Too bad. So sad.

PG&E is “essentially shifting all of the burden, all of the losses onto everyone else,” said Dylan Feik, who was Calistoga city manager until earlier this month.

The Utility News website: Utility Dive has more:

PG&E revises wildfire mitigation plan to remove hard inspection and improvement deadlines
PG&E's wildfire mitigation plans are facing fresh scrutiny after the utility's revised proposal noted the scope of proactive de-energization efforts and sought to remove inspection and action deadlines.

I love that bureaucratic double-speak: proactive de-energization efforts - would it hurt them too much to just say intentional blackouts? And then there is this howler: and sought to remove inspection and action deadlines  - we want you to trust us when we say that everything is just fine and dandy. 

A little bit about scope:

The revised plan also provided more details about the potential for widespread blackouts, in the event it must proactively shut down some transmission lines in times of high wind. PG&E said it has "expanded the scope" of its Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program to include high voltage transmission lines.

"If these high voltage transmission lines are de-energized during a PSPS event, the interconnected nature of the grid could result in a cascading effect that causes other transmission lines and distribution lines — potentially far from the original fire-risk areas — to be de-energized," the utility said.

That means areas far from high-risk zones, like San Francisco or San Jose, could be de-energized.

This will get people's attention as well as lead to wide-scale rioting. Why didn't they just budget for known expenses for maintenence and not blow all their money on alt.energy and shutting down safe and carbon neutral nuke plants.

Bill Gates on alt.energy

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Bill skewers alternative energy:

Tip of the hat to Vanderleun

California utility Pacific Gas and Electric was responsible for the major wildfires last summer. They deferred basic maintenence for twelve years and it was an equipment failure that triggered the blazes. They are facing bankruptcy to try to get out of paying massive claims. And now this - from ABC News:

Bankrupt California utility wants to give $235M in bonuses
Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. sought a judge's approval to pay $235 million in bonuses to thousands of employees despite the California utility's bankruptcy.

The money is intended to provide incentives to workers and will not be distributed if the company doesn't meet safety and financial goals, PG&E said in a court filing Wednesday. It said the bonus program has been restructured with its Chapter 11 case in mind and puts a greater emphasis on safety performance.

"In deliberately designing the plan this way, the debtors are sending a clear message to their workforce that the safety of the communities the debtors serve and of their employees is of paramount concern during the restructuring process and into the future," attorneys for the utility said in court documents.

Talk about poor management - they have to bribe their employees with bonuses for them to comply with safety regulations.

Great article at Forbes Magazine:

Nuclear Power Always Ready For Extreme Weather
As Polar Vortices, Bomb Cyclones and massive hurricanes pummel America more and more often, nuclear power plants keep on putting out maximum power when all other sources can’t.

For the last month, the Pacific Northwest’s only nuclear power plant has been under a “No Touch” order to help keep the heat on as record cold and snow covered the region. I was stuck in my house for eight days.

As reported by Annette Cary of the Tri-City Herald, the Bonneville Power Administration, which markets the electricity produced at the nuclear plant near Richland, asked Energy Northwest, the operator of the power plant, not to do anything that would prevent the plant from producing 100% power at all times during an unusually cold February across the state that increased the demand for electricity – no maintenance activities, even on its turbine generator and in the transformer yard. Don’t do anything that would stop the reliable and constant power output of nuclear.

“No Touch” is requested by BPA when unusually hot or cold weather increases the demand for electricity, notes Mike Paoli, spokesman for Energy Northwest. Many regional transmission and system operators across the United States ask nuclear plants to keep running during extreme weather because nuclear plants are the least affected by bad weather.

And these reactors are the old designs - first sketched out on cocktail napkins seventy years ago. There are newer designs that have a lot less problems with waste - in fact, they can use conventional nuclear waste as fuel. These designs are also walk-away safe - they can not melt down. If there is a total system failure, they shut themselves down and remain in a stable state. They do not operate at high pressures so no containment vessel is needed - much cheaper to build.

Here is a five minute excerpt on LFTR:

Global warming - a two-fer

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This winter is not giving up anytime soon. Two headlines:

March roars in like a lion: Millions to endure coast-to-coast snow, then 'punishing' blast of record cold

Record-Breaking Cold Blast in U.S. Will Roil Power Markets Next Week

The second links to an article in Bloomberg. Renewable energy does not work well during times of extreme weather - just when you need to have more energy for heating or cooling. There is a lot at the article including this sobering graph showing the cost of energy delivered to Sumas, WA - a town on the border with Canada, about 14 miles from Maple Falls:

20190302-power.jpg

If we were using nuclear power, the cost of power would remain relatively constant regardless of what was happening outside. Not the case with solar or wind.

Some common sense from California

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Nice to see common sense prevail for once - from The Daily Wire:

But Climate Change! Largest California County Bans Mega Solar Farms
If climate change is the dire threat the Left portrays it to be, then the largest county in ultra-left-wing California is definitely not setting the example: Officials from San Bernardino County just killed the construction of a mega solar farm, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"California's largest county has banned the construction of large solar and wind farms on more than 1 million acres of private land, bending to the will of residents who say they don’t want renewable energy projects industrializing their rural desert communities northeast of Los Angeles," the outlet reports.

The ban passed the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors 4-1, putting up a serious barrier for state lawmakers, who passed a law requiring utility companies to produce 60% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030 and 100% from "climate-friendly" sources by 2045. Those measures cannot be enacted without the cooperation of local governments, the populations of which rarely support big solar and wind farms ruining their communities.

About time the govenments started listening to We The People. They are supposed to be working for us, not the highest bidder. Time for nuclear power with modern reactors. alt.energy does not work without huge government subsidies - our tax dollars.

Major milestone for energy exports - LNG

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Great news from The Tennessee Star:

Trump Admin Ecstatic with Late-Night Deal That Broke Deadlock Over Natural Gas Exports
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) broke a two-year partisan deadlock Thursday night to approve a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Louisiana.

Top Department of Energy (DOE) officials said this was a major breakthrough that will alleviate a growing problem for U.S. energy producers — a lack of export infrastructure.

“We have been promoting US energy around the world and today’s decision by the FERC is a very important one,” DOE Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview.

And a bit more:

Once complete, Calcasieu Pass terminal will export up 12 million metric tons of LNG a year. Brouillette said the project already has buyers, including in Europe, waiting for American natural gas.

Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling spurred an oil and natural gas boom over the past decade, making the U.S. the world’s top hydrocarbon producer. However, a limiting factor on oil and gas is the lack of export terminals and pipelines.

And do not forget VP Joe Biden's famous three letter word J. O. B. S.

Russia provides the bulk of LNG to Europe and this is one of their primary sources of cash flow. Offer an alternative and we pull their fangs a bit. Level the playing field.

Great news - Nuclear Reactors

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Hopeful story at Grist:

Next-gen Nukes
Back in 2009, Simon Irish, an investment manager in New York, found the kind of opportunity that he thought could transform the world while — in the process — transforming dollars into riches.

Irish saw that countries around the globe needed to build a boggling amount of clean-power projects to replace their fossil fuel infrastructure, while also providing enough energy for rising demand from China, India, and other rapidly growing countries. He realized that it would be very hard for renewables, which depend on the wind blowing and the sun shining, to do everything. And he knew that nuclear power, the only existing form of clean energy that could fill the gaps, was too expensive to compete with oil and gas.

But then, at a conference in 2011, he met an engineer with an innovative design for a nuclear reactor cooled by molten salt. If it worked, Irish figured, it could not only solve the problems with aging nuclear power, but also provide a realistic path to dropping fossil fuels.

“The question was, ‘Can we do better than the conventional reactors that were commercialized 60 years ago?” Irish recalled. “And the answer was, ‘Absolutely.’”

A bit about the technology (Irish started a company "Terrestrial Energy" which is trying to get a salt reactor online before 2030):

Terrestrial is far from alone. Dozens of nuclear startups are popping up around the country, aiming to solve the well-known problems with nuclear power — radioactive waste, meltdowns, weapons proliferation, and high costs.

There are reactors that burn nuclear waste. There are reactors designed to destroy isotopes that could be made into weapons. There are small reactors that could be built inexpensively in factories. So many ideas!

Good news indeed. These reactors can not melt down - they are walk-away safe.

Great news - nuclear energy

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When they say fleet, they are talking about the installed base of commercial power plants, not ships.
From The Daily Caller:

LAWMAKERS OVERWHELMINGLY VOTE TO MODERNIZE US NUCLEAR FLEET
Congress passed bipartisan legislation that aims to streamline the regulatory process for commercial nuclear plants, bringing relief to an industry that has witnessed decline and uncertainty.

The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act was approved in the House of Representatives by wide margins Friday, clearing the chamber by 361 to 10. The Senate had already approved the bill on Thursday by a voice vote.

Introduced by Wyoming GOP Sen. John Barrasso and co-sponsored by a number of Republicans and Democrats alike, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act calls for a number of reforms that would unburden the industry. The legislation streamlines how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates facilities by improving licensing procedures and giving licensees more transparency on how the agency spends its money. Additionally, it encourages investment in nuclear research and supports the development new technology in labs around the country.

The end goal of the bill is to make the development and commercialization of nuclear technology more affordable.

Hopefully, there are provisions for modernizing the design and exploring liquid salt reactors - specifically Thorium. Thorium is about as common as Lead in our earth - very common. Uranium is about as common as Platinum - very rare and expensive. These reactors are walk-away safe - they can not melt down.

Some great news - new oil

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A new oil find - from National Review:

Feds Discover Largest Oil, Natural-Gas Reserve in History
The federal government has discovered a massive new reserve of oil and natural gas in Texas and New Mexico that it says has the “largest continuous oil and gas resource potential ever assessed.”

“Christmas came a few weeks early this year,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said of the new reserve, which is believed to have enough energy to fuel the U.S. for nearly seven years.

The report can be found here (four page PDF document): Assessment of Undiscovered Continuous Oil and Gas Resources in the Wolfcamp Shale and Bone Spring Formation of the Delaware Basin, Permian Basin Province, New Mexico and Texas, 2018

I am still waiting for new nuclear power plants - specifically LFTRs but this will tide us over.

Waking up to the reality

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Green energy is an abject lie - from Scotland's The Herald:

Blackouts, deaths and civil unrest: warning over Scotland's rush to go green
A massive gap in the electricity system caused by the closure of coal-fired power stations and growth of unpredictable renewable generation has created the real prospect of complete power failure.

According the Institution of Engineers in Scotland (IESIS), there is a rising threat of an unstable electricity supply which, left unaddressed, could result in “deaths, severe societal and industrial disruption, civil disturbance and loss of production”.

The organisation is also warning that the loss of traditional power generating stations such as Longannet, which closed in 2016, means restoring electricity in a “black start” situation – following a complete loss of power – would take several days.

Its new report into the energy system points to serious power cuts in other countries, which have resulted in civil disturbance, and warns: “A lengthy delay would have severe negative consequences – the supply of food, water, heat, money, petrol would be compromised; there would be limited communications. The situation would be nightmarish.”

Especially now that everything is pointing to another Solar Minimum. Now is not the time to be putting all of our energy generation options into one unstable basket.

From Bloomberg:

Texas Is About to Create OPEC's Worst Nightmare
The map lays out OPEC’s nightmare in graphic form.

An infestation of dots, thousands of them, represent oil wells in the Permian basin of West Texas and a slice of New Mexico. In less than a decade, U.S. companies have drilled 114,000. Many of them would turn a profit even with crude prices as low as $30 a barrel.

OPEC’s bad dream only deepens next year, when Permian producers expect to iron out distribution snags that will add three pipelines and as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day.

“The Permian will continue to grow and OPEC needs to learn to live with it,’’ said Mike Loya, the top executive in the Americas for Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent oil-trading house.

There is more at the site - the two maps show four pipelines opening in 2019 with an estimated delivery from 2,085,000 to 2,670,000 barrels/day with three more pipelines coming online in 2020 with an estimated delivery of more than 2,000,000.

This chart is very telling - plus, it makes me smile. The more energy independent we are, the better for our Nation.

20181122-oil.jpg

The price of wind generated electricity

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Interesting article in the London Times:

Too much wind shocks electric bill payers
A record £4.8m was paid to wind farm operators in the space of one day, for switching off turbines when it became too windy.

More than 60 farms — most in Scotland — were compensated after electricity supply outstripped demand on October 8. The bonanza far exceeded the previous reported record of £3.1m, sparking fresh criticism of the Scottish government’s headlong rush towards green energy.

In exceptionally windy conditions, the National Grid cannot cope with the extra energy turbines produce, so firms receive “constraint payments” to shut down. Although most wind power comes from Scotland, households across Britain are funding the payments through their electricity bills.

“The high costs of wind farm constraints result from the Scottish government’s unbalanced enthusiasm for wind power,” said John…

Wind is not profitable without large government subsidies - thanks tax and rate payers... Why people do not go all out for nuclear is beyond me. The designs that have caused problems (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima) are all old designs. The initial development of these designs was done seventy years ago. There are a lot of new designs that are intrinsically safe - pull the plug and they shut down by themselves. No pressure vessel needed so very cheap to build.

Cool news on the nuclear front

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A two-fer - this first one will have wonderful trickle-down effect for small towns and towns in very remote areas. From the Nuclear Energy Institute:

Micro-Reactors Could Power Remote Military Bases Within a Decade
With more than 70 advanced nuclear reactor projects in various stages of development in the United States alone, there is exciting growth in this field. “Micro-reactors” are one class of these innovative technologies, whose particular attributes hold out special promise to the nation’s largest energy user—the United States military.

Working closely with the reactor vendors and with relevant offices at the U.S. departments of Defense (DOD) and Energy (DOE), the Nuclear Energy Institute this week published a road map laying out the actions needed to ensure the successful deployment of a first-of-a-kind micro-reactor at a domestic defense installation by the end of 2027.

A bit more:

In contrast with the large nuclear reactors in operation all over the world that have a generating capacity of about 1,000 megawatts-electric (MWe), micro-reactors are typically less than 10 MWe in size. These smaller reactor designs are well-suited for transportation to and installation at remote military bases, where they can provide both electricity and heat for years at a time without refueling. They are capable of operating independently of external electricity grids that could be vulnerable to threats, natural and otherwise, in areas where DOD bases operate.

Micro-reactors are thus capable of providing the resilient energy the military needs, providing primary power under normal and emergency conditions and enhancing DOD’s range of operations, endurance, agility and mission assurance.

The key thing here is that the fully fueled core inside of its containment vessel and radioactive shielding is small enough that it can be trucked to the site or flown in on a cargo plane. The cores are not refueled in the field, they are returned to the manufacturer for processing so the on-site maintenance is basically nil.

Second - two excellent postings. From Neutron Bytes:

INL’s Rita Baranwal Nominated to be DOE A/Sec of Nuclear Energy
The Idaho Falls Post Register reported this week that Rita Barta the head of the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been nominated to serve as the U.S. Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy.

The White House announced the nomination of Rita Baranwal, who heads GAIN, which DOE created in 2015 to support nuclear startups and help universities, industries and other private groups get nuclear technology to the market more quickly. GAIN is managed by Idaho National Laboratory.

Previously, Baranwal was director of technology development and application at Westinghouse. She was a manager in materials technology at Bechtel Bettis. She led research and development in nuclear fuels materials for U.S. naval reactors.

Two very solid and competent postings. We need people like this to advance the next generation of nuclear power. The designs we are using now were first scribbled onto a cocktail napkin over 60 years ago. Time for some more modern designs.

President Trump and coal power

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We have - as a conservative estimate - about 350 years of known coal reserves in the USA and much more in Canada. Enough to meet our energy needs cheaply and cleanly (with proper scrubbers installed). The CO2 by-product is plant food - without CO2, photosynthesis would simply not happen. President Trump is putting coal back into States hands (as per the Tenth Amendment). From the Christian Science Monitor:

Trump plan rolls back Obama-era coal regulations
The Trump administration on Tuesday came out with new rules scaling back Obama-era constraints on coal-fired power plants, striking at one of the former administration's legacy programs to rein in climate-changing fossil-fuel emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called the Obama-era regulations on coal power plants "overly prescriptive and burdensome."

The Trump administration plan broadly increases the leeway given states to decide how and how much to regulate coal power plants. The EPA says it "empowers states, promotes energy independence, and facilitates economic growth and job creation."

Combined with the EPA's proposal earlier this month to ease mileage requirements for vehicles, the move may actually increase the country's climate-changing emissions, according to some former top EPA officials, environmental groups, and other opponents.

Good! Time we got back to the era of cheap(er) energy. The one thing that lifts people out of poverty is cheap energy - ( even the New York Times agrees) creates jobs, grows the economy, improves health and wealth. The idea of subsidizing expensive intermittent forms of alt.energy just because they are "green" is abject stupidity. The billions of dollars wasted on this rat hole will have future generations scratching their heads.

From Buffalo, NY's The Buffalo News:

Four of NYS Thruway's costly wind turbines stand idle. Why?
Tens of thousands of people every day drive past the towering wind turbines posted at four Thruway exits between Eden and the Pennsylvania state line.

But no matter how windy the day might be, those two-blade turbines stand motionless.

Just a few years after the New York State Thruway Authority spent about $5 million on five turbines, four of them stand dormant. And a spokesperson indicated the Thruway Authority does not know when they will become operational again.

"They are currently offline waiting for replacement parts and/or maintenance," spokesperson Jennifer Givner wrote in an email.

And the timeline and the source:

But between October 2017 and January 2018, all of them except for the turbine at the Westfield interchange were taken offline. Givner said she did not know how much energy the turbines generated while they were operational.

The four inoperable turbines were manufactured by a French company, Vergnet, which declared itself insolvent a year ago.

So they failed in less than one year and now the parts are unavailable. What's more, the turbines were manufactured by a French company so the profit and the jobs went out of the United States.

Don't mess with Texas - oil

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From CNN:

Texas to pass Iraq and Iran as world's No. 3 oil powerhouse
The shale oil boom has brought a gold rush mentality to the Lone Star State, which is home to not one but two massive oilfields.

Plunging drilling costs have sparked an explosion of production out of the Permian Basin of West Texas. In fact, Texas is pumping so much oil that it will surpass OPEC members Iran and Iraq next year, HSBC predicted in a recent report.

If it were a country, Texas would be the world's No. 3 oil producer, behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia, the investment bank said.

"It's remarkable. The Permian is nothing less than a blessing for the global economy," said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group, a consulting firm.

Great news - the idea that we have reached "peak oil" is not based on the numbers. There are a lot of untapped reserves and the technology is always advancing.

alt.energy failure in Germany

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Now this is going to leave a mark (ha ha ha) From World Nuclear News:

Germany to compensate utilities for nuclear phaseout losses
The German cabinet has agreed to grant compensation of up to EUR1 billion (USD1.17 billion) to the utilities forced to shut down their nuclear power plants by the Energiewende, or energy transition, that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel introduced in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan in March 2011. At that time, Germany was obtaining around a quarter of its electricity from 17 nuclear reactors operated by EnBW, EOn, RWE and Vattenfall.

Some of those plants were scheduled to operate for a number of years more - that is a lot of revenue that the utility companies will be missing out on. Nuclear reactors cost a lot of money to build but are dirt cheap to run. Time to switch to Thorium - dirt cheap to build and dirt cheap to run.

People tout alternative energy as being good for the environment. Here is one story with a different outcome - from PV Tech:

‘Countless piles of dead batteries’ are testament to lead acid’s toxic legacy in Africa
Providers of solar-plus-storage into the continent of Africa have said that it is a misconception that lead acid batteries used in off-grid systems are recycled efficiently back into the supply chain.

PV Tech's sister title, Energy-Storage.News spoke with Powerhive and Offgrid Electric, two US-headquartered providers of solar which have both focused on the off-grid sector in Africa to date. Powerhive provides community microgrids and in essence acts as a utility, selling 240V AC power by the kilowatt-hour, while Offgrid Electric leases or sells solar home kits to individual households. The former is active in Kenya, with Rwanda and Nigeria expected to be its next ports of call, while Off Grid Electric is focused on Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and the Ivory Coast at the moment.

The article links to a report that goes into much more detail. There is no infrastructure to recycle the lead acid batteries so they end up as waste.

First, this great article from Forbes:

If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive?
Over the last year, the media have published story after story after story about the declining price of solar panels and wind turbines.

People who read these stories are understandably left with the impression that the more solar and wind energy we produce, the lower electricity prices will become.

And yet that’s not what’s happening. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Between 2009 and 2017, the price of solar panels per watt declined by 75 percent while the price of wind turbines per watt declined by 50 percent.

And yet — during the same period — the price of electricity in places that deployed significant quantities of renewables increased dramatically.

Electricity prices increased by:

What gives? If solar panels and wind turbines became so much cheaper, why did the price of electricity rise instead of decline?

The author puts forward several hypotheses and then says this:

The main reason appears to have been predicted by a young German economist in 2013.

In a paper for Energy Policy, Leon Hirth estimated that the economic value of wind and solar would decline significantly as they become a larger part of electricity supply.

The reason? Their fundamentally unreliable nature. Both solar and wind produce too much energy when societies don’t need it, and not enough when they do.

Solar and wind thus require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.

And unreliability requires solar- and/or wind-heavy places like Germany, California and Denmark to pay neighboring nations or states to take their solar and wind energy when they are producing too much of it.

Hirth predicted that the economic value of wind on the European grid would decline 40 percent once it becomes 30 percent of electricity while the value of solar would drop by 50 percent when it got to just 15 percent.

The natural gas plants have to be running on hot standby as if they are completely shut down, it takes ten minutes or so for them to start. An interesting read - well worth your time.

Secondly, when the government removes the subsidies (ie: our tax dollars), the economics of alt.energy come crashing back down to reality. From James Delingpole writing at Breitbart:

Germany’s Solar Industry Crashes and Burns
Germany’s solar industry has crashed and burned after the government drastically cut its subsidies.

James quotes from a number of sources showing the spike in cost and has this to say:

Germany’s great transition from fossil fuel power to renewables – its Energiewende – will cost the economy an estimated 520 billion Euros ($635 billion) by 2020. This is roughly equal to 25,000 Euros ($30,500) per family of four.

The collapse of solar industry in Germany puts into perspective EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s recent comments on renewables.

“It’s not the job of this agency, or any job in the federal government, to use regulatory power to favor of one sector of the economy over another. And what you saw with the past administration is just that — an attitude that says fossil fuel … is something that should be diminished in favor of, what, renewables. That doesn’t mean renewables shouldn’t be a part of our electricity-generation mix. It should be. But to use regulatory power to favor renewables at the expense natural gas, oil and coal is just something that’s not within the regulatory powers of this agency. And so we’re fixing that.’

Wise words. The second article is well worth reading too. A harbinger of what we will face if we go overboard with the idea of renewable energy. It is a rat hole. We should be persuing Thorium reactors instead of this.

Interesting news on the Energy front

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From Environment & Energy News:

DOE could use wartime law to help coal. Here's how it works
Invoking a Korean War-era law to aid struggling coal and nuclear units would represent a dramatic expansion of the Trump administration's campaign to rescue the industry, lobbyists and analysts said yesterday.

The Department of Energy is reportedly weighing use of the Defense Production Act of 1950 to prevent the retirement of ailing coal and nuclear units at the request of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The law gives the president broad powers to require businesses to prioritize contracts for materials deemed vital to national security. Bloomberg first reported on DOE's plan.

A bit more about the law

The Defense Production Act was passed during the Korean War to ensure the U.S. industrial base could meet the needs of the American war effort. It was later used during the California energy crisis, when the government compelled natural gas suppliers to fulfill contracts with the then-ailing Pacific Gas and Electric Co. The idea was controversial at the time.

In a 2001 hearing about the law's use during the crisis, then-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm (R) said, "The Defense Production Act is the most powerful and potentially dangerous American law, in my opinion."

The law was amended in 2009 to restrict its use, said Susan Tierney, a former DOE official in the Obama administration. Two provisions require the law to be limited to scenarios where a scarce material is essential to national defense or to instances where national defense requirements cannot be fulfilled without disrupting civilian markets.

All it will take is one major storm during an unseasonably cold winter to collapse the grid.

Yikes - power outage in Puerto Rico

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From the Chicago Tribune:

Excavator blamed for blackout that left 1.4 million without power in Puerto Rico
An island-wide blackout hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday after an excavator accidentally downed a transmission line, officials said, as the U.S. territory struggles to repair an increasingly unstable power grid nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria.

Officials said it could take 24 to 36 hours to fully restore power to more than 1.4 million customers as outrage grew across the island about the state of Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority. It was the second major outage in less than a week, with the previous one affecting some 840,000 customers.

Odd that the grid would be so tender that one incident could take out the entire thing. The last paragraph speaks volumes:

The new blackout occurred as Puerto Rico legislators debate a bill that would privatize the island's power company, which is $14 billion in debt and relies on infrastructure nearly three times older than the industry average.

Hate to think of what combination of corruption and incompetence brought this about. Privatization is the way to go here - establish some standards and stick to them.

The beginning of the end of a big swindle - from Reuters:

Exclusive: EPA gives giant refiner a 'hardship' waiver from regulation
The Environmental Protection Agency has exempted one of the nation’s largest oil refining companies, Andeavor, from complying with U.S. biofuels regulations - a waiver historically reserved for tiny operations in danger of going belly up, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The exemption, which applies to the three smallest of Andeavor’s ten refineries, marks the first evidence of the EPA freeing a highly profitable multi-billion dollar company from the costly mandates of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard. The law requires refiners to blend biofuels such as ethanol into gasoline or purchase credits from those who do such blending.

The decision, which has not been previously reported, raises the question of whether other big and profitable oil firms with small refineries - such as Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Phillips 66 -  also have or could receive the waivers, which are granted by the EPA in secret.

Good - the inclusion of corn-derived Ethanol in our gasoline is nothing about the environment, it is pure pork to the US corn growers. Modern automobiles have been formulated to tolerate this but small engines - lawnmowers, string trimmer, generators, etc.... - do not and the ethanol greatly reduces engine life. There is simply no need to use this and it benefits a very small but very politcally powerful section of agribusiness. Time to wean them off the government teat.

Great news - Canadian Nuclear power

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Good news from our neighbors to the North - from the Canadian Government:

Canada Mapping a Strategy for the Next Generation of Nuclear Reactor Technology
Canada has been a world leader in nuclear energy for over 60 years. The nuclear industry in Canada is a vital source of innovation, job creation and low-carbon energy. The next generation in nuclear technology will help Canadians build a cleaner, safer world while meeting our energy needs in a low-carbon economy.

Parliamentary Secretary Kim Rudd, on behalf of Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, today announced a road mapping process under the Energy Innovation Program to explore the potential for on- and off-grid applications for small modular reactor (SMR) technology in Canada.

Driven by interested provincial and territorial governments and energy utilities, the exercise will be delivered by the Canadian Nuclear Association and engage stakeholders to better understand their views on priorities and challenges related to the possible development and deployment of SMRs in Canada.

I wish that they were doing Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors - those are the wave of the future but still, SMRs are a lot better than the traditional big nukes. A lot less to go wrong and much cheaper to run.

Renewable energy - a three-fer

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Just the headlines - click to read the stories.

Sheesh - I could have told you this ten years ago. Renewables are not cost effective without huge government subsidies and THAT money is coming out of your pocket. If you want to virtue signal, do it on your own dime - not mine. More.

Renewable energy - a scam

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Renewable energy is not economically sustainable without heavy government subsidies. It simply does not fly. Fortunately, clear heads are realizing this - from US News and World Report:

Oklahoma Pulling up Red Carpet Offered to Wind Industry
A battle is shaping up at Oklahoma's Capitol over the burgeoning wind industry that is facing fierce opposition from some oil-and-gas leaders and critics who say the state has been too generous with incentives. Oklahoma rolled out the red carpet for the industry more than a decade ago with subsidies that now cost the state tens of millions of dollars each year.

Now those subsidies have all been ended, but there is still a push to impose a new production tax on wind energy and maybe even cap previously promised incentives.

Supporters of wind say the state is going back on its word and threatening an industry that has proven to be beneficial to the state, offering a new revenue stream for landowners and local school districts.

And to the wind industry? You had more than ten years to make it work. We the People do not want to spend any more of our tax dollars on these boondoggles. If they do not function economically, they need to be phased out with something that does work - clean coal or nuclear.

About that oil shortage in the USA

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Things certainly have turned around with this new President - from Bloomberg:

Oil World Turns Upside Down as U.S. Sells Oil in Middle East
The United Arab Emirates, a model Persian Gulf petro-state where endless billions from crude exports feed a giant sovereign wealth fund, isn’t the most obvious customer for Texan oil.

Yet, in a trade that illustrates how the rise of the American shale industry is upending energy markets across the globe, the U.A.E. bought oil directly from the U.S. in December, according to data from the federal government. A tanker sailed from Houston and arrived in the Persian Gulf last month.

The cargo of American condensate, a type of very light crude oil, was preferred to regional grades because its superior quality made more suitable for the U.A.E’s processing plants, a person with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing a commercially sensitive matter.

Good old Sweet Texas Crude - good stuff and we are sitting on vast resources. What energy crisis?

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