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    German industrial conglomerate MAN AG plans to expand into renewable energies such as biofuels and solar power. Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said services unit Ferrostaal would lead the expansion. Reuters - November 24, 2007.

    Analysts think Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems, which pumped hundreds of millions and decades of research into developing hydrogen fuel cells for cars, is going to sell its automotive division. Experts describe the development as "the death of the hydrogen highway". The problems with H2 fuel cell cars are manifold: hydrogen is a mere energy carrier and its production requires a primary energy input; production is expensive, as would be storage and distribution; finally, scaling fuel cells and storage tanks down to fit in cars remains a huge challenge. Meanwhile, critics have said that the primary energy for hydrogen can better be used for electricity and electric vehicles. On a well-to-wheel basis, the cleanest and most efficient way to produce hydrogen is via biomass, so the news is a set-back for the biohydrogen community. But then again, biomass can be used more efficiently as electricity for battery cars. Canada.com - November 21, 2007.

    South Korea plans to invest 20 billion won (€14.8/$21.8 million) by 2010 on securing technologies to develop synthetic fuels from biomass, coal and natural gas, as well as biobutanol. 29 private companies, research institutes and universities will join this first stage of the "next-generation clean energy development project" led by South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Times - November 19, 2007.

    OPEC leaders began a summit today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing a chilling warning that crude prices could double to US$200 from their already-record level if the United States attacked Iran or Venezuela. He urged assembled leaders from the OPEC, meeting for only the third time in the cartel's 47-year history, to club together for geopolitical reasons. But the cartel is split between an 'anti-US' block including Venezuela, Iran, and soon to return ex-member Ecuador, and a 'neutral' group comprising most Gulf States. France24 - November 17, 2007.

    The article "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve" published in the scientific journal Energy Policy (Volume 35, Issue 7, 1 July 2007, Pages 3550-3570) ranks number 1 in the 'Top 25 hottest articles'. The article was written by professor John A. Mathews, Macquarie University (Sydney, Autralia), and presents a case for a win-win bioenergy relationship between the industrialised and the developing world. Mathews holds the Chair of Strategic Management at the university, and is a leading expert in the analysis of the evolution and emergence of disruptive technologies and their global strategic management. ScienceDirect - November 16, 2007.

    Timber products company China Grand Forestry Resources Group announced that it would acquire Yunnan Shenyu New Energy, a biofuels research group, for €560/$822 million. Yunnan Shenyu New Energy has developed an entire industrial biofuel production chain, from a fully active energy crop seedling nursery to a biorefinery. Cleantech - November 16, 2007.

    Northern European countries launch the Nordic Bioenergy Project - "Opportunities and consequences of an expanding bio energy market in the Nordic countries" - with the aim to help coordinate bioenergy activities in the Nordic countries and improve the visibility of existing and future Nordic solutions in the complex field of bioenergy, energy security, competing uses of resources and land, regional development and environmental impacts. A wealth of data, analyses and cases will be presented on a new website - Nordic Energy - along with announcements of workshops during the duration of project. Nordic Energy - November 14, 2007.

    Global Partners has announced that it is planning to increase its refined products and biofuels storage capacity in Providence, Rhode Island by 474,000 barrels. The partnership has entered into agreements with New England Petroleum Terminal, at a deepwater marine terminal located at the Port of Providence. PRInside - November 14, 2007.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicks off the meeting in Valencia, Spain, which will result in the production of the Synthesis Report on climate change. The report will summarize the core findings of the three volumes published earlier by the separate working groups. IPCC - November 12, 2007.

    Biopact's Laurens Rademakers is interviewed by Mongabay on the risks of large-scale bioenergy with carbon storage (BECS) proposals. Even though Biopact remains positive about BECS, because it offers one of the few safe systems to mitigate climate change in a drastic way, care must be take to avoid negative impacts on tropical forests. Mongabay - November 10, 2007.

    According to the latest annual ranking produced by The Scientist, Belgium is the world's best country for academic research, followed by the U.S. and Canada. Belgium's top position is especially relevant for plant, biology, biotechnology and bioenergy research, as these are amongst the science fields on which it scores best. The Scientist - November 8, 2007.

    Mascoma Corporation, a cellulosic ethanol company, today announced the acquisition of Celsys BioFuels, Inc. Celsys BioFuels was formed in 2006 to commercialize cellulosic ethanol production technology developed in the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering at Purdue University. The Celsys technology is based on proprietary pretreatment processes for multiple biomass feedstocks, including corn fiber and distiller grains. The technology was developed by Dr. Michael Ladisch, an internationally known leader in the field of renewable fuels and cellulosic biofuels. He will be taking a two-year leave of absence from Purdue University to join Mascoma as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Business Wire - November 7, 2007.

    Bemis Company, Inc. announced today that it will partner with Plantic Technologies Limited, an Australian company specializing in starch-based biopolymers, to develop and sell renewably resourced flexible films using patented Plantic technology. Bemis - November 7, 2007.

    Hungary's Kalocsa Hõerõmû Kft is to build a HUF 40 billion (€158.2 million) straw-fired biomass power plant with a maximum capacity of 49.9 megawatts near Kalocsa in southern Hungary. Portfolio Hungary - November 7, 2007.

    Canada's Gemini Corporation has received approval to proceed into the detailed engineering, fabrication and construction phases of a biogas cogeneration facility located in the Lethbridge, Alberta area, the first of its kind whereby biogas production is enhanced through the use of Thermal Hydrolysis technology, a high temperature, high pressure process for the safe destruction of SRM material from the beef industry. The technology enables a facility to redirect waste material, previously shipped to landfills, into a valuable feedstock for the generation of electricity and thermal energy. This eliminates the release of methane into the environment and the resultant solids are approved for use as a land amendment rather than re-entering the waste stream. In addition, it enhances the biogas production process by more than 25%. Market Wire - November 7, 2007.

    A new Agency to manage Britain's commitment to biofuels was established today by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. The Renewable Fuels Agency will be responsible for the day to day running of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, coming into force in April next year. By 2010, the Obligation will mean that 5% of all the fuels sold in the UK should come from biofuels, which could save 2.6m to 3m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. eGov Monitor - November 5, 2007.

    Prices for prompt loading South African coal cargoes reached a new record last week with a trade at $85.00 a tonne free-on-board (FOB) for a February cargo. Strong Indian demand and tight supply has pushed South African prices up to record levels from around $47.00 at the beginning of the year. European DES/CIF ARA coal prices have remained fairly stable over the past few days, having traded up to a record $130.00 a tonne DES ARA late last week. Fair value is probably just below $130.00 a tonne, traders said. At this price, some forms of biomass become directly competitive with coal. Reuters Africa - November 4, 2007.

    The government of India's Harayana state has decided to promote biomass power projects based on gasification in a move to help rural communities replace costly diesel and furnace oil. The news was announced during a meeting of the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA). Six pilot plants have demonstrated the efficiency and practicability of small-scale biomass gasification. Capital subsidies will now be made available to similar projects at the rate of Rs 2.5 lakh (€4400) per 100 KW for electrical applications and Rs 2 lakh (€3500) per 300 KW for thermal applications. New Kerala - November 1, 2007.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

U.S. oil production down 5%, reserves declined 4% in 2006; natural gas reserves and production up

According to an advance report [*.pdf] by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy, crude oil production declined 5 percent in 2006 whereas proved reserves were down by 4 percent in 2006. The U.S. is the third largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia and Russia. U.S. natural gas proved reserves on the contrary increased 3 percent in 2006, rising to over 211 trillion cubic feet, the highest level since 1976. Additions to reserves replaced 136 percent of the dry natural gas produced in 2006. This was the eighth year in a row that U.S. natural gas proved reserves have increased.

Crude oil

According to the report, the Gulf of Mexico Federal Offshore and Alaska, two of the largest U.S. oil-producing areas, reported 10 and 7 percent declines in crude oil proved reserves. This was due to downward revisions and fewer new discoveries. Utah reported the largest increase in crude oil reserves, adding 78 million barrels (a 30 percent increase from 2005), followed by Colorado and New Mexico.

Reserves additions of crude oil did not keep pace with production - operators replaced only 52 percent of 2006 crude oil production with reserves additions. U.S. crude oil production declined 5 percent in 2006 due mostly to lower Alaskan production. Part of the decline resulted from an August 2006 shut-in of producing wells in half of Prudhoe Bay Field for inspection and repair of corrosion in the gathering system.

For the second year in a row Montana had the largest annual oil production increase of any State (6 million barrels; a 20 percent increase) owing to continued development of the Bakken Formation in the Elm Coulee Field. This relatively new and important oil field is difficult to produce and requires cutting-edge technology for economic production.

Total discoveries of crude oil were 577 million barrels in 2006, 49 percent less than the prior 10-year average and 45 percent less than 2005's discoveries of 1,051 million barrels (table, click to enlarge).

The majority of crude oil total discoveries in 2006 came from extensions to fields in Texas, Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico Federal Offshore, Montana, California, New Mexico, and Louisiana.

Operators discovered 504 million barrels in extensions in 2006, 37 percent less than in 2005 and 10 percent less than the prior 10-year average (558 million barrels).

New field discoveries accounted for 30 million barrels of crude oil reserves additions. Seventy percent of these discoveries (21 of 30 million barrels) were in the Gulf of Mexico Federal Offshore. This was 85 percent less than the new field discoveries of 2005 and only 7 percent of the prior 10-year average (428 million barrels):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

New reservoir discoveries in old fields were 43 million barrels, 5 percent more than 2005 and 71 percent less than the prior 10-year average (149 million barrels).

Reserves additions are the sum of total discoveries, revisions, adjustments, sales, and acquisitions. In 2006, reserves additions were 867 million barrels, 59 percent less than the volume of reserves additions in 2005 and 54 percent less than the prior 10-year average (1,876 million barrels).

Crude oil net revisions and adjustments were 96 million barrels, 88 percent less than the net revisions and adjustments of 2005 and only 13 percent of the prior 10-year average (759 million barrels). The net of sales and acquisitions of crude oil proved reserves was 194 million barrels.

Other 2006 crude oil events of note:
• The annual average domestic first purchase price for crude oil increased 19 percent from $50.28 per barrel in 2005 to $59.69 per barrel.
• Oil well completions (exploratory and development) were up 28 percent from 2005.

Natural gas

Texas led the nation in natural gas reserves additions in 2006 with a 9 percent increase in dry gas proved reserves due to rapid development of Barnett Shale reservoirs in the Newark East Field. Advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology and relatively high natural gas prices supported this development.

Alaska and Utah were second and third for dry natural gas proved reserves additions in 2006. Total U.S. natural gas production increased in 2006 due to production increases in Texas (Barnett Shale), Louisiana, and the Rocky Mountain states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana). Gulf of Mexico natural gas production declined the most with a 6 percent drop.

Total discoveries of dry natural gas reserves attributed to the drilling of exploratory wells, which include field extensions, new field discoveries, and new reservoir discoveries in old fields, were 23,342 billion cubic feet in 2006. This was 35 percent more than the prior 10-year average (17,255 billion cubic feet) and 1 percent more than in 2005 (table, click to enlarge).

The majority of natural gas total discoveries in 2006 were from extensions to existing gas fields. Field extensions were 21,778 billion cubic feet, 3 percent more than in 2005 and 61 percent more than the prior 10-year average (13,522 billion cubic feet).

New field discoveries were 409 billion cubic feet, 57 percent less than the volume discovered in 2005 and 75 percent less than the prior 10-year average (1,659 billion cubic feet).

New reservoir discoveries in old fields were 1,155 billion cubic feet, 4 percent less than 2005 and 44 percent less than the prior 10-year average (2,074 billion cubic feet).

Natural gas net revisions and adjustments were a net loss of 1,093 billion cubic feet in 2006. The prior occurrence of negative net revisions was in 1988. The net of sales and acquisitions of dry natural gas proved reserves was 2,996 billion cubic feet.

Coalbed natural gas reserves decreased 1 percent in 2006 and accounted for 9 percent of U.S. dry natural gas reserves. Coalbed natural gas production increased 2 percent in 2006 and accounted for 9 percent of U.S. dry natural gas production.

Other 2006 natural gas events of note:
• Natural gas prices at the wellhead declined 12 percent in 2006 to an average of $6.42 per thousand cubic feet, as compared to $7.33 per thousand cubic feet in 2005.
• Gas well completions (exploratory and development) were up 17 percent from 2005.

Energy Information Administration: U.S. Natural Gas Proved Reserves Reach 30 Year High in 2006 Alaska and Gulf of Mexico Oil Reserves Revised Downward - November 5, 2007.

Energy Information Administration: Advance Summary: U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves 2006 Annual Report [*.pdf] - October, 2007


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