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Shocker: Natural Gas Cuts CO2 Emissions

From a suddenly noticing Associated Press:

Gas could be the cavalry in global warming fight

By Mark Williams, AP Energy Writer

December 21, 2009

An unlikely source of energy has emerged to meet international demands that the United States do more to fight global warming: It’s cleaner than coal, cheaper than oil and a 90-year supply is under our feet.

It’s natural gas, the same fossil fuel that was in such short supply a decade ago that it was deemed unreliable. It’s now being uncovered at such a rapid pace that its price is near a seven-year low. Long used to heat half the nation’s homes, it’s becoming the fuel of choice when building new power plants. Someday, it may win wider acceptance as a replacement for gasoline in our cars and trucks.

Natural gas’ abundance and low price come as governments around the world debate how to curtail carbon dioxide and other pollution that contribute to global warming. The likely outcome is a tax on companies that spew excessive greenhouse gases. Utilities and other companies see natural gas as a way to lower emissions — and their costs. Yet politicians aren’t stumping for it.

In June, President Barack Obama lumped natural gas with oil and coal as energy sources the nation must move away from. He touts alternative sources — solar, wind and biofuels derived from corn and other plants. In Congress, the energy debate has focused on finding cleaner coal and saving thousands of mining jobs from West Virginia to Wyoming.

Utilities in the U.S. aren’t waiting for Washington to jump on the gas bandwagon. Looming climate legislation has altered the calculus that they use to determine the cheapest way to deliver power. Coal may still be cheaper, but natural gas emits half as much carbon when burned to generate the same amount of electricity.

Today, about 27 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions come from coal-fired power plants, which generate 44 percent of the electricity used in the U.S. Just under 25 percent of power comes from burning natural gas, more than double its share a decade ago but still with room to grow.

But the fuel has to be plentiful and its price stable — and that has not always been the case with natural gas. In the 1990s, factories that wanted to burn gas instead of coal had to install equipment that did both because the gas supply was uncertain and wild price swings were common. In some states, because of feared shortages, homebuilders were told new gas hookups were banned.

It’s a different story today. Energy experts believe that the huge volume of supply now will ease price swings and supply worries.

Gas now trades on futures markets for about $5.50 per 1,000 cubic feet. While that’s up from a recent low of $2.41 in September as the recession reduced demand and storage caverns filled to overflowing, it’s less than half what it was in the summer of 2008 when oil prices surged close to $150 a barrel.

Oil and gas prices trends have since diverged, due to the recession and the growing realization of just how much gas has been discovered in the last three years. That’s thanks to the introduction of horizontal drilling technology that has unlocked stunning amounts of gas in what were before off-limits shale formations. Estimates of total gas reserves have jumped 58 percent from 2004 to 2008, giving the U.S. a 90-year supply at the current usage rate of about 23 trillion cubic feet per year.

The only question is whether enough gas can be delivered at affordable enough prices for these trends to accelerate.

The world’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobil Corp., gave its answer last Monday when it announced a $30 billion deal to acquire XTO Energy Inc. The move will make it the country’s No. 1 producer of natural gas.

Exxon expects to be able to dramatically boost natural gas sales to electric utilities. In fact, CEO Rex Tillerson says that’s why the deal is such a smart investment.

Tillerson says he sees demand for natural gas growing 50 percent by 2030, much of it for electricity generation and running factories. Decisions being made by executives at power companies lend credence to that forecast…

Even with an expected jump in demand from utilities, gas prices won’t rise much beyond $6.50 per 1,000 cubic feet for years to come, says Ken Medlock, an energy fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston. That tracks an Energy Department estimate made last week…

The wells still capture only about a quarter of the gas locked in the shale formations. Future improvements could double that recovery rate. Bottom line: this new source of gas supply in Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, New York and other states holds out the promise of as much as 2,000 trillion cubic feet of supplies. It is estimated that the U.S. sits on 83 percent more recoverable natural gas than was thought in 1990.

"The question now is how does this change the energy discussion in the U.S. and by how much?" says Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and chairman of IHS CERA, an energy consultancy. "This is domestic energy … it’s low carbon, it’s low cost and it’s abundant. When you add it up, it’s revolutionary."

Huh, now that there has been some kind of massive income redistribution deal struck at Hoaxenhagen, it’s safe to publish ‘news’ like this.

And never mind that it has been just one of any number of solutions staring us in the face for years.

That is, if you even believe there is a real problem with oil or coal.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, December 21st, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “Shocker: Natural Gas Cuts CO2 Emissions”

  1. U NO HOO says:

    T Boon Pikkens, call your office.

  2. Right of the People says:

    And still the environazis here in the US won’t let us build more nuke plants. If we built a few hundred more of them and started recycling our fuel like the Frenchies do it solves the storage problem too but the Greens are agin it because they are afraid of nuclear power. Plus it doesn’t fit their lets all move back to the 19th century concept of what’s best for good ‘ole Momma Earth. I still say if the Greenies really want to do their part and cut down on carbon dioxide emissions they need to stop exhaling.

  3. bill says:

    Coal gasification power plants do about the same thing — It’s mostly about efficiency.

    There is an coal gasification test power plant outside of Tampa Fl where efficiency has been raised to over 60%.
    http://www.fe.doe.gov/programs/powersystems/gasification/gasificationpioneer.html

    Here is how it works
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/4218251.html

    Bush talked about this repeatedly, under the heading of ‘clean coal’. Democrats don’t want you to talk about it though, since the USA is the Saudi Arabia of coal reserves.

    Most conversion process, that take the carbon fuel(coal oil gas) through a gas state(CH4) produce cleaner fuel than the raw stuff that comes out of the ground. Coal-to-liquids technology, refined by the Fischer-Tropsche process is being experimented with by the USAF for aviation fuel, since it produces very clean burning aviation fuel.

    Of historical note: The NAZI war machine of WWII ran almost exclusively on Fischer-Tropsche produced fuel. The refining process produces final product at about $30-40 barrel of oil equivalent price. The process was invented in the 19 20s.

  4. proreason says:

    The enviro nazis hate natural gas.

    If it was used much more widely, the impetus to implement Communism with them becoming lifetime commissar aristocrats disappears.

    And from the Moron’s perspective, it simply wouldn’t punish whitey enough.

  5. Proof says:

    The goal of the environmentalist wackos is not how cleanly we produce energy, but that we consume it at all!
    Civilization and industrialization require energy to run. This does not fit with the imaginary idyllic future that the enviros want to force us all into.

  6. VMAN says:

    And as we all know none of this has to do with cleaner fuel it has to do with the destruction of the USA.

  7. bill says:

    One of the draw backs of natural gas, it doesn’t transport easily. That’s why it is flared at the wells.

    One day Americans will open their eyes and say, hey, we have fossil fuels coming out our ears in the USA. The EIA says the USA has over twice the proved reserves of any other country. The second is Saudi Arabia. GO figure. Maybe our problem isn’t energy independence, just maybe it’s Democrats.

    • BigOil says:

      Even the issue with transportation of natural gas is being rectified. Liquified natural gas (LNG) facilities are being built at large natural gas fields all over the world. We even have quite a few re-gasification plants in the US to import the LNG – although the environmental groups are starting to block the permits.

      Of course, like oil, we have ample supplies of natural gas in the US, if we were allowed to produce it. There are huge natural gas deposits off the Florida coast – but the government has blocked development of the fields.

  8. crosspatch says:

    Burn coal to produce a certain number of BTU, burn the amount of gas required to produce the same BTU, you will produce about exactly the same amount of CO2.

    CO2 comes from a hydrocarbon combining with oxygen producing CO2 + H2O. From coal it is just C + O2.

    But in any case, as there is not one shred of evidence that CO2 is in any way harmful to the environment, it is all a bunch of political “pocket pool” anyway.

  9. Tater Salad says:

    The Cap & Trade (tax) connection with Obama/Maurice Strong/Al Gore/The World Bank/climate change and $$:

    http://warofillusions.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/obama-maurice-strong-al-gore-key-players-cashing-in-on-chicago-climate-exchange/


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