Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The underestimated role of methane in global warming

Studies show that methane has a higher impact on global warming than CO2:

"Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important, most cited and best known greenhouse gas. But in global warming, another greenhouse gas plays a considerable role, methane (CH4). If it stays in the atmosphere for much less time than C02, ten years against at least a century, its "warming power" is 28 times higher than that of carbon dioxide. About a quarter of human-caused climate change is believed to come from methane emissions. A study published in the past few days in both the Nature and Science journals shows that the importance of methane has been largely underestimated." 

See also additional information concerning this topic in this article of MIT News. An MIT research team assessed the extent and the impact of natural gas, i.e. methane, leaks.

"Natural gas, which is mostly methane, is viewed as a significant “bridge fuel” to help the world move away from the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels, since burning natural gas for electricity produces about half as much carbon dioxide as burning coal. But methane is itself a potent greenhouse gas, and it currently leaks from production wells, storage tanks, pipelines, and urban distribution pipes for natural gas. Increasing its usage, as a strategy for decarbonizing the electricity supply, will also increase the potential for such “fugitive” methane emissions, although there is great uncertainty about how much to expect. Recent studies have documented the difficulty in even measuring today’s emissions levels.
This uncertainty adds to the difficulty of assessing natural gas’ role as a bridge to a net-zero-carbon energy system, and in knowing when to transition away from it. But strategic choices must be made now about whether to invest in natural gas infrastructure. This inspired MIT researchers to quantify timelines for cleaning up natural gas infrastructure in the United States or accelerating a shift away from it, while recognizing the uncertainty about fugitive methane emissions.
The study shows that in order for natural gas to be a major component of the nation’s effort to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets over the coming decade, present methods of controlling methane leakage would have to improve by anywhere from 30 to 90 percent. Given current difficulties in monitoring methane, achieving those levels of reduction may be a challenge. Methane is a valuable commodity, and therefore companies producing, storing, and distributing it already have some incentive to minimize its losses. However, despite this, even intentional natural gas venting and flaring (emitting carbon dioxide) continues." 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Oil discoveries: will Guyana close up to the wealthiest countries on the planet?

Recent ample oil finds in Guyana aliment hopes that the south american country could fill in for declining Venezuela.
Observers whisper that international oil corporations pulled the guyanes president over the barrel at negotiations, also the previously poor and corrupt country might be overchallenged with the sudden prosperity writes german newspaper "Welt":

"Because Guyana has been an oil exporter for four weeks. Although the oil is still flowing sparingly, production is to be expanded rapidly within a very short time. The country then becomes an important player in the global oil market, and a poor, largely jungle-covered area can quickly become the richest nation on earth.
According to forecasts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), economic growth is expected to reach over 85 percent this year alone. But whether and to what extent all of this benefits the population remains to be seen.
Guyana is located in the north of the South American continent, framed by Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. It is about the size of Belarus, but only 775,000 people live there.
It was a British colony until 1966, after which Guyana only made the international headlines once: through the Jonestown massacre in 1978, when cult leader Jim Jones ordered his supporters, who had settled in the rainforest of Guyana, to commit suicide , This cost 900 people their lives, the pictures of corpses in the middle of the jungle went around the world.
Otherwise, life in the country has been going at a leisurely pace over the past decades. Mining - bauxite, manganese, gold - only benefited a small upper class, making Guyana one of the poorest countries on the continent.
By contrast, neighboring Venezuela has been at the forefront of prosperity in South America for decades, not least because of the almost inexhaustible oil reserves. But even though countless explorations were carried out in Guyana, there were simply no major oil fields there. Until 2015.
At that time, Exxon Mobil announced that it had found a huge oil field in the Starbroek Block, some 190 kilometers off the coast of Guyana. And after four years of preparation in a consortium with the US group Hess and the Chinese CNOOC, the black gold was pumped to the surface for the first time on December 20.
“Euphoric, Guyana's President David Granger promptly declared December 20 to be the new national holiday. Oil production gives the country the prospect of a better life, he said and promised: "Every Guyan will benefit from the oil production, nobody will be left behind." The oil field that is now being developed is to deliver 120,000 barrels a day by the end of the year, by 2025 it will According to forecasts by the International Monetary Fund, funding will rise to 424,000 barrels, other estimates assume up to 750,000 barrels or even one million barrels.
That would be more than neighboring Venezuela is currently funding. Production there has declined dramatically in recent years, which Guyana could now at least partially compensate for.
Another figure, however, is much more impressive and important for Guyana, namely oil production per capita. Because 750,000 barrels per day would correspond to around one barrel of oil per inhabitant that would be taken from the Starbroek block.
That would be far ahead of all other oil producing countries, even Kuwait only has 0.8 barrels per capita, Qatar 0.7 and Saudi Arabia 0.3. And that's not all: Exxon Mobil has now announced further oil discoveries off the coast of Guyana.
Almost overnight, the small, sleepy country in the South American rainforest thus became an oil nation, and the petrodollars patter on it from then on. The IMF therefore sees the economy growing by around 85 percent this year alone. By 2024, the country's economic power is expected to almost quadruple from around $ 4 billion a year to $ 15 billion a year.
Per capita income would then rise from just over $ 5,000, which is roughly the same level as Albania, to almost $ 20,000 - just a little behind Saudi Arabia. And a few years later, Guyana could compete with the rich Emirates in the Gulf.
But the big question is what people really get out of this new wealth. In any case, far too little, says the international non-governmental organization Global Witness, which takes action against human rights violations and environmental pollution in connection with the extraction of raw materials. She accuses Exxon Mobil of ripping off the inexperienced government of Guyana."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Nordstream 2: no replacement for pipelaying company Allseas in sight yet

The menace with severe sanctions did not fail it's effect with the pipelaying company Allseas that layed the pipes for the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

Allseas immediately terminated the operations after the sanctions were pronounced.
Although the consortium of Nordstream 2 was confident to resume the works so far no replacement has been found to complete the outstanding 150 km, writes german newspaper "Handeslblatt":

"In the first days after the sanctions against Allseas, the supporters of the project were still confident. The trade penalties are an obstacle, yes, maybe a price driver, but could ultimately be avoided. "The project has progressed so far that ways and means will be found to let the sanctions run out of steam," said an industry representative in December.
In the meantime, pipeline supporters have become more reserved. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin, who otherwise likes to show off his energy, is cautious. When he went to the press with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow in the second week of January, he did not want to commit to an appointment. "I hope that the work will be completed by the end of the current year or in the first quarter of next year and that the gas pipeline will be put into operation," said Putin.
The uncompromising harshness with which the Americans go to work has surprised everyone: the managers of Nord Stream 2 AG as well as the governments in Berlin and Moscow. Actually, as is common in such cases, the US Congress Sanctions Act provided for a transition period. 
It should be 30 days. That would probably have been enough to complete the pipeline. But Cruz made it clear in his letter that the economic penalties against the laying companies would apply immediately. The Americans did not even act so brutally against Iran.
The targeted sanctioning of Allseas proves to be a smart move. Allseas has special technical skills for which the company is envied all over the world. With its ships, the huge "Pioneering Spirit" and the somewhat smaller "Solitaire", it is able to lay pipeline pipes at great depths and in difficult weather conditions. Replacing these skills is not easy.
The Russians still want to try and convert their own ships. The most likely candidate to move the last few kilometers is the “Akademik Cherskiy”, a Russian layaway ship completed in 2015 that meets the requirements required in Danish waters. According to media reports, the "Akademik Cherskiy" was most recently in the Far East of Russia near Vladivostok.
According to experts, the trip to the Baltic Sea alone would take up to two months. According to experts, the Russian laying ship "Fortuna", which can be seen in the port of Mukran on RĂ¼gen these days, is only suitable for laying pipes in shallow water or near the coast - and is therefore a non-void candidate."



The alliance of gas and soccer - vector of influence

An interesting short video by "Vox" explaining how Gazprom sponsors football clubs in Europe and thus expands its influence. The piece shows also how other state corporations of authoritarian countries choose football to manipulate the public.