T’was the night before separation when all through the Land
The Liberals were dancing, excessive tax revenues in hand.
While the stockings of residents, homeless or not
Were filled with inflation and expenses that came from dumb Liberal thought.
The homeless were nestled where they put their heads
While visions of affordable housing danced in their heads.
And Granny in Cape Breton, her home heated not,
Cursed feebly at Ottawa for the heat pump they brought.
While out across Rideau there arose such a clatter
As the PM and his cabinet partied over the matters.
Said Justin “Carbon taxes have filled our coffers,”
Replied his mistress, “Let’s spend it saving the otters.”
Freeland hushed all as she quietly said,
“Our coffers are overflowing, not from EVs,
Nor digital, nor Carbon, nor Fintech,
But thank the Saudis and Russkies for the price of
Western Canada Select.”
The group then doth protested
With Guilbeault proclaiming while hugging a tree,
“Damn the West and freeze the banks.
We must bring them to their knees!”
He continued, “Justin, please hop on a plane,
Go look and report why oil revenue is giving such support.
Make one trip then two, then maybe four
But go fly about, look into it more.”
Trudeau put down his bottled water,
And his plate loaded with beef.
“I will go fly often and make many a speech,
Proclaim carbon a problem, then plastics, then meat.”
“I’ll unify our natives then sneak off to surf,
But most importantly I will embarrass our allies and
Invite our enemies
To make Canada worse.”
From New York a Butts with privileged contract in hand,
Stood on his sandals as he pronounced,
“Canada doesn’t work for them, it works for us,
With lifelong contracts, appointments, pensions so much.”
“We will not get coal from Santa, for we have plenty in Vancouver Port
And we’ll steal power from Labrador and sell it full price to New York.
There is much work for us, we need not fear,
That the common folks will work one, two jobs or three.”
On Freeland, on Guilbeault, on Butts and Joli
On Justin and Chretien and the old Liberal guard
On guard against the west,
Who’s work ethic and values they fear.
Joyeux Noël à tous et vive l’Ouest libre!
OWOE has pointed out similarities between today's Big Oil and last millennium's Big Tobacco several times over the years. In September 2022 we published "Don’t Blame the Suppliers, Unless They Are Big Oil" where we shared articles documenting the efforts of the fossil fuel companies to engage in a public relations campaign to sow doubt in the science of climate change by following the playbook of the tobacco industry. And in August 2023 we published "Big Oil Stuns Again" where we addressed the greenwashing that the oil companies are currently engaged in and speculated that Big Oil's lack of civic responsibility might become legal liabilities in the future, similar to what happened with the tobacco industry. Recent events have made it even more clear that, yes, Big Oil is following in the footsteps of Big Tobacco and is likely to meet a similar fate.
There has been a significant and rapidly growing number of lawsuits around the world involving climate litigation against the oil companies (see Fig 1) with a growing focus on climate disclosures and greenwashing. However, this year in particular has seen a number of significant actions from states, countries, and the public, including a key ruling by the US Supreme Court:
The current situation regarding Big Oil lawsuits appears to mirror the history of Big Tobacco lawsuits going back almost 70 years. The first wave of tobacco lawsuits in the 1950s attempted to link cigarette smoking to cancer, and the tobacco companies prevailed in all of them. In the 1980s a second wave accused the tobacco companies of knowing that cigarettes were addictive and caused cancer but did not warn the public. Most of those lawsuits, but not all, were won by Big Tobacco. Then in the 1990s plaintiffs began winning these lawsuits when cigarette company documents were leaked showing the companies were aware of the addictive nature of tobacco.
Another interesting parallel involves Big Oil's drive to increase the use of plastics and other petrochemicals, which currently account for as much as 12% of fossil fuel use. A 2020 documentary presented on NPR found evidence that Big Oil believed that plastic recycling could never be made economical yet spent tens of millions of dollars on advertising to sell the public on the idea that the majority of plastic could be, and would be, recycled. As a result, plastic production has been growing about 5% annually, yet under 10% of the plastic produced is recycled. Compare this to the University of Kansas study published also this past September that uncovered that the chemically addictive fatty, salty and sweet foods that make up 68% of the American food supply were developed and marketed by tobacco companies when they owned some of the largest food companies in the world including Nabisco and Kraft-General Foods.
Despite all the parallels, there is one big difference between Big Oil and Big Tobacco. At the height of use in 1965, approximately 50 million Americans over the age of 18 smoked tobacco products or approximately 1/3rd of the adult population. Thus, 2/3rds of the adults in the US did not smoke. As the health effects of smoking became known, public opinion within the non-smoking population and peer pressure on smokers helped drive the anti-smoking health campaign. In contrast, today, essentially 100% of the US population is addicted to fossil fuel. Even those of us who have embraced electric vehicles (EVs), your author included, are dependent on fossil fuel. Air travel, heating, cooking, plastics, consumer products, clothing…virtually every aspect of daily life is tied to fossil fuel products. So, yes, OWOE sees Big Oil as the new Big Tobacco, but the path toward breaking our addiction is much less clear.
Bill Luyties, OWOE Technical Editor: There is no doubt that the world needs oil and will continue to need it for some time while the transition to renewable energy plays out. There is also little doubt that that burning of fossil fuels and associated carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere have contributed greatly to the current crisis that is global warming (see 97% of active climate scientists agree). Examples of the impact on the world's climate are all around us - from the record-breaking temperatures around the world, to the forest fires in Canada, California, Spain, Greece, and Hawaii, to the melting glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic and rapidly rising sea levels. So, where does Big Oil fit into this ongoing transition? The last several years have seen Big Oil, which has been the source of much of the public misinformation about climate change, pushing the narrative that they will be part of the solution. How is that going?
In December 2022 the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Accountability issued a report (since deleted) documenting how Big Oil companies are "greenwashing" with claims that they embrace clean energy even though behind closed doors they dismiss the effort and plan to continue fossil fuel investments. And Figure 1 shows a comparison by DW (Deutsche Welle) from 2021 of Big Oil's public messaging containing green claims versus the percentage of capital expenditures within their total yearly budgets. Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell are relatively similar in their efforts to greenwash the public.
Let's look more closely at Shell Oil Company, a company that I spent 30 years working for at the start of my career. I can't deny that those were some of the best years of my career working on cutting-edge technology and projects to develop deepwater oil and gas reserves around the world. But the world has changed dramatically in the years since I left Shell as the impact of burning fossil fuels has become better understood, and the early fears of "climate alarmists" have become a sobering reality. For a while I believed that companies like Shell were making progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and funding and developing green energy technology.
In 2021 Shell surprised activists and investors by committing to a number of steps in the short term to reduce its carbon footprint for the production of oil, and in the longer term to embrace green energy. Under the leadership of former CEO, Ben van Beurden, Shell announced its target "to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society's progress in achieving the goal of the UN Paris Agreement on climate change". This included reducing emissions from operations and from the fuels and other energy products they sell to their customers as well as capturing and storing any remaining emissions or balancing them with offsets. It also included transforming the business by providing low-carbon energy such as charging for electric vehicles, hydrogen and electricity generated by solar and wind power. And then, Van Beurden was replaced at the beginning of 2023 by Wael Sawan, who had been the director of integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions. To much of the outside world, the choice signaled that Shell was not just moving forward but taking a leading role in the energy transition.
My was that wrong!
Within 6 months of taking office, Sawan announced a scaling back of its targets to reduce its carbon footprint, a shift back to focus on oil and gas production, a paring back of investments in renewables, and a reorganization to eliminate any global focus on renewables. This was driven by shareholder pressure to focus on oil and gas as the most profitable businesses. Shareholder income would be sharply increased, capital expenditure would be reduced, and money saved would be used to buy back stock shares.
Even before this abrupt change, Climate Action 100+, an investor-led initiative to ensure the world's largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change, rated 171 companies that are key to driving the global net zero emissions transition. Based on publicly disclosed information as of May 2022, Shell was given a mixed review. However, one area in particular, Item 6.1, Capital Alignment - The company is working to decarbonize its capital expenditures - was scored as "No, does not meet any criteria". Essentially, the company talked a good game but was making no effort to align its capital spending to what it was telling the world.
Shell and the rest of the Big Oil fraternity have neither acknowledged their role in climate change nor taken any meaningful steps to play a part in the solution. Their almost single-minded focus is on continuing to produce oil and gas, which they believe will make the most money in the short term. It does not matter how that will impact the planet and its eight billion people and what that cost to society will be. And it shows absolutely no vision regarding how an energy company might survive and even thrive in a fossil-free world. One can't help but wonder about the parallels with the tobacco industry and whether Big Oil's lack of responsibility will become legal liabilities in the future.
Once again, Big Oil stuns with its lack of vision and hypocrisy.
Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: There are a lot of peculiarities about Canada that foreigners do not understand and residents shamefully ignore. For one, Canada is one of the biggest money laundering countries in the world. Ask any person on the street about the dangers of corruption and he or she will point to places overseas, oblivious to the extensive graft in Canada. Graft and corruption exist at every government level and in every region of Canada. But the governments choose to overlook these things. Coupled with outright incompetence, Canada does not look good for common folks striving to make a better life.
With respect to ignoring corruption, a good example is in British Columbia (B.C.). There have been three investigations across two governments, culminating with the Cullen Commission in 2022 which concluded that money laundering in B.C. is a major problem at the casinos and adversely pushes housing prices past affordability for middle class residents.
In terms of incompetence, right after the Pandemic, city councilors in Calgary gleefully and rapidly approved the most expensive light rail transit expansion possible and then, even more quickly, approved a subsidiary of SNC Lavalin to manage the expansion. The Calgary city councilors did not even consider the very bad experience and huge cost overruns that the City of Ottawa had when it selected an SNC Lavalin subsidiary for Ottawa's LRT expansion. In Canada the political class has long since given up doing what's best for Canadians and instead does what's best for the political party and their hired consultants / contractors / retirement firms. Canada is not strong and not free despite the lyrics in its anthem.
Fortunately, Canada is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and to date, the export of those resources has managed to sustain the national economy fairly well. Alberta is home to the world's 4th largest confirmed oil reserves. If we scoot a little bit east to Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan has over 40% of the productive farmland in Canada. Saskatchewan farmers contribute greatly to the world's supply of grains and pulses, and Saskatchewan is also the world's largest producer and exporter of specialty crops such as mustard seed, herbs and spices. In Canada, the renewable energy generated by solar and wind in Alberta and Saskatchewan dwarfs Ontario and Quebec (Fig. 1).
An "unfortunate" side effect of Global Warming is that Saskatchewan will be able to produce even more food crops in the future. Side by side then, in Western Canada, you have two global powerhouses of energy and food. What could be wrong with that?
The greatest evil, according to the Federal Liberals and about 70% of the electors in Ontario and about 85% of the electors in Quebec (the East), is Alberta; Saskatchewan is also frequently tainted with Alberta's guilt (the West). Why this enmity? Primarily because the princes of privilege in Ottawa, the Laurentian elites, do not have control over Alberta's vast energy resources and Saskatchewan's vast agriculture resources. Thus, they introduce legislation to cut fertilizer inputs for farmers and fumble about delaying the building of pipelines to bring substantial Canadian energy resources to global markets. Planned incompetence can be a useful political tool.
While the world's oil economies (Norway, Iraq, Brazil…) strive to produce more oil and gas to supply global demand and earn foreign income for their respective coffers, in Canada the Federal Liberals proclaim the lack of a business case for Canada and try everything possible, short of sending in tanks, to shut down the oil and gas fields. "Zero gas emissions by 2035!"is impossible without collapsing the entire Canadian economy. "We must cut carbon emissions!" is also impossible as long as Justin Trudeau jets around frivolously.
When the previous, Conservative Harper government was in power there were caucus discussions about policies regarding domestic supply management. During such discussions the caucus Members of Parliament (MPs) from the western provinces were told that polling in their ridings indicated that the party stance on certain controversial issues that favored the East would only cost the western MPs a few points in their constituencies. (Sources withheld, somewhat.) Consequently, Canada lost its Wheat Board which supply managed the grains output in the West, but kept the Dairy boards which supply manage milk production in every province though most notably in Quebec and Ontario.
During the first tenure of the Liberal Trudeau administration Liberal MPs from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were told that there would be no way in hell that the Liberal party would approve the Energy East pipeline through Quebec. (Sources withheld again, somewhat.) The Energy East pipeline was meant to carry natural gas from Western Canada to the Atlantic provinces to displace coal from being burned in power plants in Nova Scotia and to start LNG exports to the world.
In both examples, central political party and elitist fancies outweighed the benefits of Canadians: Namely loosening of supply management to reduce consumer prices and displacing carbon intensive coal burning with much lower carbon emitting natural gas while also generating large foreign income.
The cases of outright East bias in Canada are way too numerous to list in this blog, but some unique and bitter examples follow.
Most recently there have been two significant pronouncements by the federal Liberal government in Canada pertaining to massive subsidies for EV battery plants. The first of these was the Stellantis deal of approximately $15 billion in outright grants to produce EV battery systems in Windsor, Ontario. This was soon joined by the announcement for $13 billion in outright grants to Volkswagen for another EV battery plant in St. Thomas, Ontario. This amounts to each of Canada's 16 million workers subsidizing about a thousand jobs in the East by around $1750. Here's the funnier thing: Those EV battery plants are intended for production of lithium-ion batteries which are about to be outdated technology.
This is not a new or rare occurrence in Canada for the governments too often throw good money after old technology. In 1832 Canada opened the Rideau Canal between Ottawa (Bytown) and Kingston to support internal trade and defence. in Canada of course the canal froze over half the year, so it was only effective for a few months out of the year. Concurrently around the rest of the world railroads, which can be used year-round, began popping up everywhere.
Canals before trains; lithium-ion before solid state; graft before prosperity.
EVERY Liberal government decision is made on the basis of vote gain / loss to maintain power and to fiscally benefit the East as much as possible. No decision in Canada is made to benefit the general population. That is why talk in Washington about the vast, critical to the energy transition, mineral deposits in Canada is futile as no mine in a Liberal governed Canada will be approved for at least 25 years, not until every vote is analyzed beforehand and not unless it fills the pockets of the princes of privilege. EVERY Federal government decision is made on how to best protect the parliamentary seats in Ontario and Quebec. If Ontario had the agricultural potential of Saskatchewan, Ottawa would not be pressuring farms to cut fertilizer use. And yes, if the Oil Sands were in Quebec, Canada would be out-producing Saudi Arabia.
Vive l'Alberta Libre
VIve le Saskatchewan Libre!
Blog by Bill Luyties (OWOE Founder and Editor): Over the past few weeks, I've had multiple articles pop up on my news feeds that proclaim that an EV can cost as much to drive per mile as an ICE vehicle. These all appear to be based on an Anderson Economic Group report titled: Real World Cost of Fueling EVs and ICE Vehicles (2nd Edition), dated April 2022 but apparently not issued until early 2023. One article headline actually shouts: Shocking study finds EVs cost more to fuel than gas cars in late 2022. While I generally feel that the Anderson study did a good job of trying to compare costs, the authors of these news articles ignore most of the study and focus on a single headline-grabbing finding that for mid-priced cars EVs cost about the same as ICE cars when charged at home, but cost more when using commercial chargers (see Figure 1). This may well be true today, but the Anderson study and these articles miss the real point - such a comparison is misleading and almost totally irrelevant for a number of key reasons.
This study, and every other one like it ignores the full cost of burning a gallon of gas.
What is the true cost? The price one pays at the pump at the neighborhood Shell station is not the true cost of a gallon of gasoline. It is missing a number of key elements that are not visible to the consumer and yet cost the consumer eventually. Costs that are not included:
One must also keep in mind that the technology associated with EVs is evolving rapidly and will also change the overall picture in favor of EVs. Whereas ICE technology is well over 100 years old and at the stage where only incremental improvements are likely, EV technology is rapidly advancing. Over the next several years, the industry is likely to see significant changes that will continue to reduce cost and other perceived shortcomings of EVs:
Etc., etc…The magnitude of these unaccounted-for costs and evolving technology make any such ICE vs EV comparison ridiculous. If one were to ignore everything else, including only the SCC cost in the comparison, the headline for these articles would be more like: “Boring study shows that EVs cost less to drive than gas cars and are much better for the environment.” But such articles don’t get attention and online clicks.
Guest blog by Yumusbe Joacquin: Here are some interesting and somewhat offbeat energy stories that haven't gotten much media attention over the past year.
Wind Turbines Causing Earth to Speed Up
In 2020 scientists noticed that the earth's rotation had begun to speed up. Historically, the earth has been slowing down, primarily due to the drag created by the gravitation effect of the moon. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) has been adding leap seconds every now and again to make up for the slower spin (which last happened on December 31, 2016). However, there were 28 days in 2020 where the earth actually spun faster than any time during the previous 60 years. And on July 26, 2022, the earth completed its quickest-ever spin with a rotation that was 1.50 milliseconds less than its nominal 24-hours.
One group of earth scientists at the Phox Institute for Truth in Science (PITS) believes that they have discovered the reason. The earth spins on its axis in the west-to-east direction. This generates a Coriolis effect which results in a predominant wind flow also in the west-to-east direction. When this wind flow interacts with wind turbines that are being installed around the world and spins their blades to produce electricity, there is a net horizontal force exerted on the turbine. This force is transmitted down the tower and pushes on the surface of the earth in the same direction as its natural spin, thus increasing its speed. The more turbines, the more force and the faster the spin (Fig 1).
Although 1.5 milliseconds doesn't seem to be a very large number, the earth's spin rate will continue to increase as the aggregate number of installed turbines increases. Once again, renewable energy is impacting the planet in unforeseen and possibly damaging ways. We could very well experience more rain in California, and more hot air in Washington , D.C.
High Population Numbers Are Contributing to Global Temperature Increase
Collaborative research undertaken at the School of International Contagions at Queen's University in Sweden (SIQ), and at the school of Assumptive Science and Studies (ASS) at Fordstan University in California, has found strong evidence suggesting that human population growth may actually be a root cause of global warming. The average human expends approximately 350kJ (100W) of energy per hour. The majority of this energy is used to power the biomechanical and biochemical systems that make us function. However, as we are imperfect machines, some of that energy is lost as waste heat to the environment. Experimental measurements suggest that as much as 10% of human energy is lost as waste heat, or about 35kJ per hour. It takes about 355 kJ of heat energy to bring 1 liter of freshwater to boil from room temperature. Thus, in one day, an average human could boil 3 liters of water and, over a year, close to 2,000 liters of water. Humans are remarkable heat pumps.
The SIQ ASS researchers then postulated that human population growth could be adding significantly to the warming of the planet (Fig. 2).
It became apparent that humanity was outputting tremendous amounts of waste heat energy to the environment which in turn was contributing to global temperature change. This relationship between population growth and temperature warming accelerated with population growth. But the researchers were also puzzled by the jumps in the rate of temperature change over the last 70 years. In another stroke of brilliance, Dr. Ivanna Bekuuler of SIQ, found that the jumps in temperature change rates correlated with global pandemics (Fig. 3).
Dr. BeKuuler believes that during pandemics, when people become ill and febrile, they output more waste heat to the environment. To mitigate the warming effect of humans, the SIQ ASS team recommends that: 1) people take vaccines to prevent illness with fevers, and 2) people chill and be cool as much as possible.
Other researchers and inventors are trying to find means to harness all this extra human waste energy though the deployment of wearable thermo-electric generator clothing. The survival of the human species could depend on these actions.
Update on Coal Slaw
Several years ago OWOE shared the information about a new, non-farmed food source called Coal Slaw (Fig. 4) that had been developed at the Massachusetts Technology Institute (MTI). Although the US military adopted the product very early to use in its MREs, commercial success has lagged. However, the principal investigator for the development, Dr. Feuer in der Hosen, in an exclusive interview with OWOE, explained that Coal Slaw has now successfully passed clinical testing and that folks who tried it claim that "once you get past the black color and distinctive odor, it's actually quite good". An added plus is that the FDA certified the product as "vegan". They are now looking for venture capital to start a consumer "re-education" process and begin commercial production.
Guest blog by S.A. Shelley: For some time, I've written in previous blogs that the world has gone nuts with respect to energy policies and proclamations. Too much emphasis is on a speedy , if not immediate, Green Energy transition that does not mesh with physical reality. Politicians are master tacticians but lousy strategists and while the world needs more green and renewable energy and associated products, the world is instead starting to see uncontrolled cost increases, supply chain bottlenecks, and increasing local opposition to energy salvation. Reality bites.
There is of course that vaunted Energiewende in Germany, which became the defacto rallying cry of Greenies everywhere until last year when the Energiewende went into reverse. CO2 emissions in Germany climbed as the Germans found it necessary to restart lignite coal power plants. A German invented the term "Realpolitik" to describe how West Germany needed to work with East Germany during the Cold War. I wonder if German bureaucrats are now talking about "Realenergie" when they face cold winters?
Looking at the past year in Germany, we see that by luck they have suffered through a comparatively mild winter. This has reduced their demand for natural gas for heating and has allowed the Germans to stave off industrial collapse for at least another winter. By some miracle of modern engineering, which also runs contrary to recent German projects, the Germans managed to build a complete FSRU (floating storage and regasification unit) in 6 months. I'm sure that the Russkies, as was I, were betting that it would have taken the modern German state at least 10 years to do that, especially in light of their recent mishandling of the BER (Berlin-Brandenburg) airport (see CNN.com and BBC.com), the rail system (see DW.com and Pedestrian Observations), the Puma combat vehicle, etc. The list is very long of modern German project failures. (See the Aside for an example of a successful joint German and European project undertaking.)
But while one FSRU facility is commendable, the reopening of coal mines and coal fired power plants is shameful, especially since the power added to the grid in this time of energy emergency is about the same as the amount of power taken off the grid by the shuttering of Germany's remaining nuclear power plants in the name of Green today.
Then there are the much-heralded massive offshore windfarms announced for America, China, Japan, and Europe. It seemed like old statecraft brinksmanship, but instead of battleships of the last century, governments are competing with wind farm capacity. This, of course, has run into serious logistical and supply problems (see WEForum.org and HeavyLift.com), but even so, these ambitious offshore wind targets haven't kept the Wind Industrial Complex from seducing local, regional and national governments with tales of boundless clean energy and good jobs for all. Never mind the consumer ratepayers nor the previously negotiated contracts or subsidies, the government must pay for the Wind Inustrial Complex to thrive.
Even the once hastily scorned nuclear power industry is making a surprising though necessary comeback. Nuclear power, which until recently has been so frightening, has now become a reliable supply of clean and green base-load energy to sustain civilization.
Excluding Canada, oil production and deal-making has increased in Autocratic states (see Iraq Business News, RT.com, and Barrons) where they often don't give a hoot about how they pollute (Venezuelan oil for instance). Canada is one of the global leaders in "...ESG (environment, social, governance) best practices, health and safety standards and general field operations". But, of course, ideology in Canada pushes oil production elsewhere.
When it comes to natural gas at home, the discussions around the banning of gas furnaces and cookstoves has started (see LATimes.com, wsj.com, and wsj.com), while in Canada, the Chinese Communist Party guided Liberal Party zealots in Ottawa have gone on the warpath against fertilizers and farmers. They are smarter in Ottawa, because without fertilizer there is no food and without food there is no need for gas stoves.
In mid-2022, Germany went cap-in-hand to Canada asking for increased (the start of) LNG exports to Germany and the EU. That led to naught (see OWOE blog). Most recently, Japan went to Canada cap-in-hand to ask for increased (the start of) LNG exports to Japan. This too led to naught, and Canada couldn't even promise gasified ocean water exports to Japan.
In strategic decision making the wrong question is "What did you do for us"? The better question is "What can you bring to the table today and what will you be able to bring to the table tomorrow?" The world by now has probably realized that while Canada did good things in the past, it cannot do good things now nor in the future. Canada is no longer a dependable ally to capitalist and democratically oriented nations (see Business Council of Alberta and MLI.com). Canada, eh?
Everywhere the race to green energy appears to be hitting the wall of reality. The proclamation of 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 sounded loud and proud in Washington in 2021. Soon after the lofty goal was announced, industry began questioning the reality of physical plant, equipment, material, available skilled labor and many other factors. On local fronts, opposition to green energy projects is growing (see Forbes.com and NYTimes.com). The solution to local objections appears to be having more top-down edicts. This will not be good for society in the long run.
All politicians overpromise and underdeliver, and it becomes the chore of the electorate to decide the degree of promises and delivery they can likely expect. But the race to Green Energy could leave people in the dark because of this political tendency to speak first and think later. Instead of cutting gas stoves, how about grounding private jets? Instead of mandating fertilizer reductions, how about cutting the fanciful green plans from woke politicians? As I’ve always argued, Green Energy is better in many ways, but rushing a Green Energy transition is worse in many other ways.
Vive l'Alberta Libre!
When will a brave politician come forward with the courage to Shut Down Line 5?
Aside. Many years ago, in Communist East Germany, Chancellor Ulbricht stated at a speech that there was no plan to build a wall in Berlin. Shortly after that speech, the communist forces encircled West Berlin with barbed wire fences and, in a few more months, completed a concrete wall. The irony is that the Western (NATO) allies had forewarning about the wall, because the East German communist government bought most of the barbed wire and materials for the Berlin wall from England and West Germany. This leads me to believe that maybe the Germany of today still has a few good communists in the administration that know how to get things done like getting an FSRU built in 6 month.
Blog by Bill Luyties (OWOE Founder and Editor): I had the opportunity and pleasure to visit the Floating Wind Solutions (FWS) 2023 conference in Houston, Tx, last week and thoroughly enjoyed the three days of exhibits, presentations, networking, and reconnecting with colleagues. This was the third annual FWS and by far the largest and best attended with close to 90 exhibitors and approximately 800 attendees. The mood of the participants was very upbeat, as floating wind has experienced a number of positive developments over the last year. While there are still key hurdles to overcome, the industry appears to be on the verge of taking off.
Exhibitors included quite a few vendors offering products ranging from fabricated steel components to buoyancy modules for submerged cables to cables and slings, service providers including seafloor imaging, offshore installation, engineering and platform certification, technical societies, and platform concept developers. Two of the exhibitor booths stood out for me. 1) The Huisman booth that included a model of their new concept turbine installation vessel (see Fig. 1). This was a very sophisticated vessel that could transport turbines and assemble and install them offshore using a fully automated, rotating, and heave compensated crane. 2) The VL Offshore (VLO) / University of Texas Dallas (UTD) booth that included a scale model of their concept MARS (Modular Assembly and Reconfigurable System) platform, applicable for semi-submersible and TLP configurations, that was developed to address the lack of large fabrication yards and the option of a floating Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) concept platform (see Fig. 2). (See disclaimer, below.)
The three primary messages I took away from the conference were:
I find floating wind a very intriguing and challenging amalgam of the offshore oil and gas industry and onshore wind industry. Oil and gas developed the basic concepts for floating platforms, mooring and offshore installation in the 1980s and continued to refine those well into this century. All of those components are key parts of a floating wind development. Similarly, the turbines themselves have evolved from the small machines used for the world’s first commercial onshore wind farm to the behemoths designed specifically for offshore, such as the world’s current largest wind turbine with a rated capacity of 18 MW.
The big challenge is that oil and gas floating platforms have been essentially “one-off” facilities. Because of the unique characteristics of each oil field, in terms of production rates, oil and gas characteristics, geographical location, etc., platforms were designed to be optimized for individual needs, and in almost all situations only a single platform was required for a field. This is in stark contrast to floating wind farms where many platforms will be required, all of which can likely be identical, and mass production becomes one of the most important design considerations.
Amongst all the optimism at the conference, I must take exception, however, to one viewpoint that was expressed during one of the “Spotlight on Developers” panel discussions. On the question of how developers should determine the best floating wind concept for their project, the representative from Cerulean Winds felt strongly that this should be left to the EPCI (Engineer, Procure, Construct, and Install) contractor. In fact, he argued that the developer should hand over all aspects of the wind farm development to the contractor, including concept selection, fabrication, installation, financing, and even the first 5 to 10 years of operations and maintenance. Based on experience in the oil and gas industry, putting all development and operation risks on a contractor is only effective if the industry is very mature and the risks are all well known and easily manageable. This is definitely not the situation given the early days of floating wind. Such an approach will most likely result in one of two outcomes: 1) the development cost will be high because the EPCI contractor will factor excessive risk cost into its bid, or 2) the contractor will underestimate the risk and associated cost and the project will fail and/or the contractor will go bankrupt due to lack of funds. Either of those outcomes would be disastrous for the industry.
It will be very interesting to see how all the ideas and concepts and challenges play out over the next several years. Will costs fall to the point where floating wind is cost competitive with other options? Will governments continue to support offshore wind and help remove barriers to developments? Will a handful of floating platform concepts rise to the top and become de facto standards for the industry? Will the infrastructure necessary to support these developments be in place when needed? These are exciting times for the industry, and FWS 2023 did a good job of capturing that excitement.
(Disclaimer: I may be a bit biased here as VLO is a supporter of Our World of Energy and both principles are colleagues, but I do very much like good models, which both VLO and Huisman displayed, and VLO was the only exhibitor looking into VAWTs, which have some unique advantages for floating platforms that should be more widely studied.)
Guest Blog by S. A. Shelley: Welcome dear readers to another blog highlighting more energy follies. The world is a mess on several levels, with equity markets roiling, bonds markets churning and of course inflation running amok. Politicians at every level use every hurricane to announce that catastrophic climate change has arrived, and every excuse except fiscal imprudence as the sinister root cause for inflation (nytimes.com, nbcnews.com). We have Europeans still worrying about heat this winter and OPEC+ machinating oil prices. In response to OPEC+ moves, Washington intelligentsia responded by condemning OPEC while sidelining any effort to increase US oil production let alone finish the Keystone XL pipeline. In Europe, Germany has rapidly fired up previously shut down coal burning power plants, and citizens in Austria are scavenging forests for firewood (euronews.com, abcnews.com). In one panicked moment Germany has fallen back to fossil fuels and will once again pump more CO2 into the atmosphere than when it began its Energiewende. Perhaps the sudden new German energy plan is to accelerate global warming to prevent freezing of its populace?
Luckily for Germany and the world, there is a new energy savior to rescue everyone with clean, green energy: Canada. In August of this year, Canada and Germany announced plans to produce green hydrogen in Canada, then ship it across the ocean to Germany where it will be "burned" (note, when hydrogen burns, it becomes water.) Let's map this in Fig. 1.
Think about this.
Canada will use wind power in Newfoundland along with sea water from around Newfoundland to produce hydrogen gas which will then be shipped to Germany which has much more wind power and also locally abundant sea water resources.
In simpler terms: Canada will take water from the ocean, break it into parts, then ship it to Germany where it will eventually end up back as water in the ocean.
How on earth is this Canadian plan more efficient than Germany just locally producing green hydrogen using its abundant wind power and ocean water?
Consider another Canadian green energy export case. The biggest power station in Britain burns wood pellets. Because of bureaucrats many years ago, burning wood pellets is defined as green energy. To supply that power plant, the company each year is cutting down thousands of acres of primary, old growth forest in Canada. Let's map this in Fig. 2.
Think about this
In what Bizarro world does this make sense?
What the world needs is lots of LNG, fast. LNG can be used to displace the much more polluting coal fired power that Germany is bringing back online and of which China is building much more. LNG is used as feedstock for fertilizers, pharmaceutical and other industries. Canada has a huge abundance of gas resource, but no near term means of getting it to world markets. That's why Germany, after the Canada green hydrogen deal, raced to the Middle East to buy LNG. Imagine if that revenue went to Canada instead of the UAE? Perhaps Canada would then have enough money for the Prince of Privilege's cherished social programs?
There is of course, the mutedly touted Coastal Gas Link project in British Columbia. But that is delayed, and now some even argue that it is no longer economic to complete. The coastal gas link project began many years ago with a bureaucrat sitting at a desk in Ottawa drawing the pipeline route before any surveys were completed and before any of the project coalition partners were selected (source withheld as OWOE protects its sources). The coastal gas link project will probably never be completed before some global industries contract and before global CO2 output jumps significantly.
It is fine to be woke and aware of inequities in the world, but it is worse to base solutions on ideological fantasies without regard to realities. Welcome to the 21st century decline. Welcome to the start of the necessary break-up of Canada.
Guest blog by S.A. Shelley: WARNING: Adult language and un-woke phrases are embedded in this blog.
Writing a good blog takes some forethought and planning. But sometimes, nay too often these days, so many politicians of all stripes are continuing to make horrendously dumb statements regarding energy matters that I feel compelled to write a rebuttal to something that Angela Merkle, the former German Chancellor, said last week.
Responding to reporters' questions on October 13 about what she and Germany could have done differently to not become so dependent on Russian gas, she replied, "You always act in the time in which you find yourself." OMG. Let's compare Russian actions that coincide with Merkle's tenure in Germany (2005 to 2021). See Figure 1.
Ms. Merkle, I call bullshit on your excuse for getting Germany mired in its energy and economic mess. You were either willfully ignorant or blissfully inept of the looming danger. Much of the world could see that European dependence on Russian gas (see Figure 2), coupled with Putin's aggressive behavior and tactics, would lead to significant geopolitical problems. In 2019, then President Trump said the pipeline could turn Germany into a "hostage of Russia" and signed a law that would impose sanctions on any firm that helps Gazprom finish the pipeline.
No good leader acts only according to the situation at the time: That's reaction. A good leader acts towards achieving a vision and uses the situation at the time as a starting basis, not as an excuse to avoid blame for failure. The harm that you foisted upon Germany with your misguided beliefs ranks second only to the harm that the Prince of Privilege foists upon Canada.
Wandul durch handel in our time? Didn't a British politician say something similar just before the deadliest war of the last century? I've written this before and will repeat it: The time to stand up to autocrats is before they have your economy by the throat (Putin) or before they freeze your bank accounts (Trudeau).
More "I call BS blogs" coming shortly.
Vive l'Albeta Libre!
References to Figure 1: