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(NPR)   All you conspiracy nuts raving about a huge night time light source in North Dakota that wasn't there six years ago can just relax. It's only oil frackers burning off massive amounts of natural gas   (npr.org) divider line 20
    More: Scary, North Dakota, Water pumping, Great Plains, gasfields, Bakken, conspiracy, gas wells, natural gas  
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6586 clicks; posted to Main » on 19 Jan 2013 at 7:24 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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Archived thread
2013-01-20 01:08:01 AM
3 votes:
 I just wrote a long and detailed post which has vanished into the ether with the slip of a finger. Any body know a way to recover this text?

In the meantme, I'll swallow my spleen and try again.

In the youth of the oil industry, natural gas was a waste-product of oil drilling. It is flammable and odorless (except for impurities) and so dangerous. They burned it off to prevent fires and explosions. By that time, cities were lighting and heating with gas, but there was no way to transport gas over long distances. It took developments in technology such as high-pressure pipelines and storage to make shipping natural gas possible. Even when the natural gas began to become a commodity internationally, it was cheaper to burn it than ship it, especially since oil was cheap enough to burn to provide heat and electricity.

As the price of natural gas rises and the cost of transporting it falls, it has become more economical to capture it, but basically natural gas just leaks any way. Better to burn it away when it leaks because its safer for people and the environment, where natural gas (methane) is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. Methane doesn't last long (about 12 years for maybe 97% of it to be converted into CO2 in the environment) but it costs money to pump back into the ground, so you have to burn some of it. This is even before you consider that natural gas can be sweet (pure) or sour (full of sulphur and other impurities.

Sour gas is burned off because it is too nasty to sell. It makes a lot more pollution than clean sweet gas.

Economics, environmental safety, health and safety, and common sense dictates that a certain amount of natural gas must be burned off rather than recuperated and sold.

Nowadays, even the Saudis are cutting back on flamming, which is expensive and contributes to global warming. It's bad PR if nothing else, but is plenty else.

The processing of petroleum from tarsands and tarshales takes enormous amounts of energy to heat water to liquefy the "petroleum" trapped in sand or shale rock. The Alberta Tarsands uses enough water to supply the City of Calgary and enough natural gas to heat that water and to process the oil slurry as would heat five to six million Canadian homes. The result is an input of 0.7 or more barrels of oil equivalent per barrel of oil extracted. Back in the heyday of the Saudi fields, it cost a dollar to extract a barrel of oil. The tarsands need a price of at least $65 per barrel to be economical and oil shales are even more costly to strip-mine and process. Lots of water, lots of cheap power and lots of mess. This is a dangerous, filthy, destructive business.

I watched a documentary in which one scene showed massive vehicles working on a yellow ground. The (aerial shot) camera pulls back slowly to show that this is a mound of sulphur. The camera continues to pull back to show the mound is on another mound and so forth--the heavy equipment is building a step pyramid of sulphur extracted from the tarsands oil and it is gigantic--bigger than the Great Pyramid of Cheops, I am sure.

In short, you don't need conspiracies in this dirty business. The economics and politics are bad enough without inexplicably malign games played by mysterious players.

Environmentalists (which include lumberjacks and farmers and people whose families are suddenly dying of rare cancers downstream from this alien world that the mining of petroleum is creating) are right to try to force the business and governments that service it to be more responsible. Left to their own druthers, they would render much of the surface of the Earth unihabitable for all but the most sturdy extremophile bacteria and archaea. Anybody who is working to protect human (and all other living) lives and health by forcing these extraction industry monsters to be safer, cleaner and more responsible is Fighting the Good Fight according to my Book.

The Great Conspiracy, according to the Church of the SubGenius' Reverend Ivan Stang is Stupidity. The conspiracies of the energy trade are business as usual. Stupidity writ so large that it is pure evil.

Who needs conspiracies when there is Big Money to blinker the foolish, warped monkey brains of mankind?
2013-01-19 07:49:19 PM
3 votes:

Paris1127: Now, call me crazy, but why don't they, you know, use that natural gas? You know, instead of just burning it?


Everyone else seems to have regulation and short-term thinking and all the other stuff covered, but there's one other factor:

From what I understand, this gas is more of a safety hazard than anything else. First off (and sorry I can't cite because I read this years ago), methane near crude tends to be "sour", by which I mean it has a lot of sulfur (HS, SO2, SO3) that needs to be extracted from it first. This is difficult and costly to do, to the point that it's a money-burning proposition to sell it as fuel. In other words, there isn't a whole lot you can do with the stuff. These flares are basically venting the well to prevent build-up of flammable, corrosive AND toxic gases; it's costly to store and dispose of some other way. Pump it back underground, which defeats the purpose of the vent, and it'll just seep out. Methane is a VERY potent greenhouse gas; much worse than carbon dioxide. The sulfur-based gases are highly toxic and MUST be deal with. Finally, it's not a huge amount of methane; it's what's precipitating out of an oil well. The stuff burns bright because it's explosive and there's no effort made to hide the flame, as the whole point is to disperse the exhaust.

TL;DR: The most environmentally safe and considerate thing to do with the gas is to flare it off. It will result in more carbon dioxide and acid rain (which happens when you burn sulfur), but it's not the process that's harmful so much as our fark-the-consequences obsession with the materialistic and shortsighted waste of fossil fuels. Drilling for oil has ALWAYS been environmentally costly; you think that suddenly changed a few years ago?? Welcome back to reality. If you don't like it, ditch the goddamn Canyonero.
2013-01-19 07:35:14 PM
3 votes:
1) Burn off gas now.

2) Cry about a "natural gas shortage" in ten years and triple the price.

3) Profit!
2013-01-19 07:08:01 PM
3 votes:

Dancin_In_Anson: You really need to sit this one out, son.


Just a tip: no matter how cogent your argument might be, calling people "Son" makes you sound like a tool.
2013-01-19 04:43:26 PM
3 votes:
Now, call me crazy, but why don't they, you know, use that natural gas? You know, instead of just burning it? Maybe use it to power the local community?

/fracking's bad enough
//now they're just being wasteful
2013-01-19 05:45:35 PM
2 votes:

Solon Isonomia: That's seriously wasteful, disgustingly wasteful


Just standard business practice.  Why bother think for tomorrow when profit today is all that matters?
2013-01-19 05:11:44 PM
2 votes:

Dancin_In_Anson: Paris1127: Now, call me crazy, but why don't they, you know, use that natural gas?

Sometimes. It's cheap as shiat right now and they are drilling primarily for oil. It's not worth the effort or investment to build the infrastructure to pipe it out. Now, if there was say an overseas market that would be willing to pay a metric farkton more than it's bringing domestically...Oh wait!

That being said, flaring gas at the well site is nothing new. My Dad told me that back in the 50s you could drive through the fields south of Electra Texas at midnight at it was almost  as bright as day.


Still, it feels like they're leaving money on the table, even with the cost of infrastructure in comparison to the massive desire for natural gas. It's a limited resource, why not just gather and store?
2013-01-19 11:29:43 PM
1 votes:

Any Pie Left: Still looking for an answer to my question about using fuel cells like the Bloom Box to turn that waste gas into electricity and then adding that to the grid.


I've touched on this issue many times in this thread. The summary, there's no grid in ND that could take that energy anywhere yet. Even if it was there, internal combustion waste gas generators are much less expensive to manufacture and maintain.
2013-01-19 09:37:21 PM
1 votes:

Dancin_In_Anson: GAT_00: But the holy bottom line is better, and that costs a little more, so fark the future.

Jesus farking God boy. Do you realize that if exports were allowed, the price would go up enough to afford to build these "relatively safe' pipelines and use the product in industry and power generation thereby preserving the 'future' via the desired green path?!


GAT_00's a faux know-it-all jerkoff. Don't bother with facts or logic
2013-01-19 07:52:07 PM
1 votes:

dragonchild: Paris1127: Now, call me crazy, but why don't they, you know, use that natural gas? You know, instead of just burning it?

Everyone else seems to have regulation and short-term thinking and all the other stuff covered, but there's one other factor:

From what I understand, this gas is more of a safety hazard than anything else. First off (and sorry I can't cite because I read this years ago), methane near crude tends to be "sour", by which I mean it has a lot of sulfur (HS, SO2, SO3) that needs to be extracted from it first. This is difficult and costly to do, to the point that it's a money-burning proposition to sell it as fuel. In other words, there isn't a whole lot you can do with the stuff. These flares are basically venting the well to prevent build-up of flammable, corrosive AND toxic gases; it's costly to store and dispose of some other way. Pump it back underground, which defeats the purpose of the vent, and it'll just seep out. Methane is a VERY potent greenhouse gas; much worse than carbon dioxide. The sulfur-based gases are highly toxic and MUST be deal with. Finally, it's not a huge amount of methane; it's what's precipitating out of an oil well. The stuff burns bright because it's explosive and there's no effort made to hide the flame, as the whole point is to disperse the exhaust.

TL;DR: The most environmentally safe and considerate thing to do with the gas is to flare it off. It will result in more carbon dioxide and acid rain (which happens when you burn sulfur), but it's not the process that's harmful so much as our fark-the-consequences obsession with the materialistic and shortsighted waste of fossil fuels. Drilling for oil has ALWAYS been environmentally costly; you think that suddenly changed a few years ago?? Welcome back to reality. If you don't like it, ditch the goddamn Canyonero.


Also this.
2013-01-19 07:48:52 PM
1 votes:

Speaker2Animals: Dancin_In_Anson: Solon Isonomia: Still, it feels like they're leaving money on the table, even with the cost of infrastructure in comparison to the massive desire for natural gas. It's a limited resource, why not just gather and store?

No storage left. Really. It's insane and there are countries all but sucking our wang for the stuff. There is a concerted effort on the part of a few manufacturers to keep the DoE from authorizing mass exports. Combine that with the desire of the government to convert 'dirty' power generators to NG and you have a over supply issue. There are a couple of projects on the Texas coast to liquefy the product and ship overseas but until the greenlight is given to readily export it, it's just another waste byproduct of the oil extraction process good for little more than flaring.

Because there's no chance we'd ever need this stuff in the future, right? Assuming your first three words are even correct, build some more f*cking storage. And converting power generators from coal and oil to NG would create excess demand, not excess supply.

Not mention the insanity of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for absolutely zero benefit.


Aside from the natural salt domes that we use to "store natural gas" the only other ways of safely storing them are in Natural Gas Spheres which are safe 99.9% of the time, but that other 0.01%? Yea, shiat goes to hell after that.

The other option is specialized tanks that I know, that at least Exxon has 3 or 4 of them currently, that hold liquefied natural gas. These tanks, however, are extremely expensive, take a shiat ton of time to build and require a liquefaction facility.

You're talking billions in infrastructure for a demand that may not be there in the future. Add on to that, it's the middle of freaking no where, the NIMBY types, the government delays in permitting, and ever changing environmental regulations (not a bad thing) leads to operators going "fark it, light a match"

Also, not directed at you specifically, fracking has been used since the 1940s on liquid oil wells to stimulate reserves and improve yield.
2013-01-19 07:45:43 PM
1 votes:
Somehow, I knew this was somehow Obama's fault, and not greed and short-sightedness on the part of business. Glad to have this thread to show me exactly how.
2013-01-19 07:44:14 PM
1 votes:

Old enough to know better: 1) Burn off gas now.

2) Cry about a "natural gas shortage" in ten years and triple the price.

3) Profit!


That's about the size of it
2013-01-19 07:32:53 PM
1 votes:

GAT_00: Solon Isonomia: That's seriously wasteful, disgustingly wasteful

Just standard business practice.  Why bother think for tomorrow when profit today is all that matters?


Blasphemy. The Free Market solves all problems and don't you forget it!
2013-01-19 07:19:18 PM
1 votes:

Dancin_In_Anson: Solon Isonomia: Still, it feels like they're leaving money on the table, even with the cost of infrastructure in comparison to the massive desire for natural gas. It's a limited resource, why not just gather and store?

No storage left. Really. It's insane and there are countries all but sucking our wang for the stuff. There is a concerted effort on the part of a few manufacturers to keep the DoE from authorizing mass exports. Combine that with the desire of the government to convert 'dirty' power generators to NG and you have a over supply issue. There are a couple of projects on the Texas coast to liquefy the product and ship overseas but until the greenlight is given to readily export it, it's just another waste byproduct of the oil extraction process good for little more than flaring.


Because there's no chance we'd ever need this stuff in the future, right? Assuming your first three words are even correct, build some more f*cking storage. And converting power generators from coal and oil to NG would create excess demand, not excess supply.

Not mention the insanity of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for absolutely zero benefit.
2013-01-19 06:06:13 PM
1 votes:

Solon Isonomia: GAT_00: Solon Isonomia: That's seriously wasteful, disgustingly wasteful

Just standard business practice.  Why bother think for tomorrow when profit today is all that matters?

Because some of your shareholders might want to look at the long game and know how to use their position to redirect the company in the direction they want. At least, that's the idea behind certain shareholder rights.


And at the cost of what long term damage?  They don't give a fark about that.  The bottom line trumps all.  So what about waste?  So what about environmental damage?  As long as you make money, people like DIA will think it's somehow the greatest thing ever.  He doesn't care that this is the kind of shiat that's going to leave his grandchildren a ruined world.  He's can't think in long term.  Profit now is all he can see.
2013-01-19 06:00:30 PM
1 votes:

Solon Isonomia: Right, but which manufacturers are creating the bottleneck at the DoE?


Here is am article regarding this issue.

And another.
2013-01-19 05:53:05 PM
1 votes:

GAT_00: Just standard business practice. Why bother think for tomorrow when profit today is all that matters?


You might want to stay away from this one, my boy.
2013-01-19 05:47:35 PM
1 votes:

GAT_00: Solon Isonomia: That's seriously wasteful, disgustingly wasteful

Just standard business practice.  Why bother think for tomorrow when profit today is all that matters?


Because some of your shareholders might want to look at the long game and know how to use their position to redirect the company in the direction they want. At least, that's the idea behind certain shareholder rights.
2013-01-19 05:22:16 PM
1 votes:
Some people just like watching the world burn.
 
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