Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coal-fired Power Plants

The latest restraint on "greenhouse gas" release to be imposed on coal-fired power plants will all but rule out any new coal-fired plants in the USA. The restraint is being imposed by the EPA, not the Energy Department. Ignored completely is greenhouse gas sequestration technology now available which can handle virtually all such gases produced by power plants. But, I guess that's to be expected from an administration bent on destroying the country we have known for the last 230 years.

Green Energy

Florida Power & Light Co.'s solar power plant near Indiantown, FL was constructed at a cost of
$ 467 million and an estimated savings of $ 178 million in natural gas associated with the combined project leaving a net cost of $ 298 million excluding operating and maintenance costs. FP&L estimates the cost of producing electricity in the combined plant at $0.16/kwh v. $0.05/kwh in the gas powered plant. So much for the cost of forced "green energy".

Crude Oil and Product Pricing

Until the formation of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), crude oil production and price at the wellhead was controlled by the oil companies doing the drilling and producing of the oil. When I went to work in the industry in 1951, the market price of crude f.o.b. NY Harbor averaged about $3.50-$ 4.00/barrel depending on oil quality. At the time, the price of regular gasoline at the pump was averaging about $ 0.20-$0.25/gal. Over the next twenty years, demand for fuel products (gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel etc.), home heating oil, lubricants, specialty products (synthetic rubber, plastics, pharmaceuticals, etc.), heavy fuels and asphalt grew as more applications for petroleum derivatives were discovered. It didn't take long for the petroleum exporting countries to realize the real value of their resources. By the time the Arab countries decided to place an embargo on their oil exports to the USA in 1973, they had already begun talks leading first to nationalization of their oilfields, then to forming OPEC. The market price for oil began to climb as speculators began to push the price ever higher and their ranks expanded to include major petroleum product consumers such as airlines and power companies. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

As I write this in March 2012, the market price for crude is averaging upwards of $ 105/barrel and regular gasoline at the pump is averaging $ 3.90 +/gal. Relative to the price of crude, the price of gasoline at the pump today would exceed $ 6.00/gal were it comparable to the price structure of the two elements 60 years ago.

Some pundits blame the oil companies and speculators fo the price of gasoline at the pump because they would rather place blame than to understand the facts.