Fracking for Oil in CHina’s Earthquake Zone

Oil companies begin ‘fracking’ in China’s most dangerous earthquake zone

Published time: August 01, 2013 10:29
Edited time: August 01, 2013 12:05
Reuters / StringerReuters / Stringer

The Chinese want to join the shale gas revolution, even if it means drilling for oil in China’s earthquake hot bed in the Sichuan region, where nearly 70,000 died in an earthquake in 2008.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and China National Petroleum have started ‘fracking’ operations in the province.

China hopes to boost annual shale gas production to 6.5 billion cubic meters by 2015, and reserves are estimated at about 1,115 trillion cubic feet, according to the US Energy Information Administration, higher than the estimated 665 trillion gas reserves on American soil.

Europe’s largest oil company plans to invest $1 billion per year in China’s shale gas industry, as part of its goal to increase global output to four million barrels of oil and gas by 2017-2018, up from current levels of 3.3 million.

Drilling for oil in the Longmenshan mountain range, where India and Asia meet, could increase tremors in the already highly-sensitive area.

The hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ process of extracting oil from the earth is invasive and is believed by many to be a direct earthquake instigator.

Extraction by ‘fracking’ involves pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals into the ground, which creates excess hydro waste, which over time, causes tectonic stress.

“We do detailed structural analysis as a routine part of our pre-drill evaluation,” Shi Jiangtao, a Shell spokesman in Beijing, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. “This means that we evaluate the geology by using seismic, surface geology, nearby well data, etc.”

There is strong correlative evidence between deep underground wells and nearby earthquakes, both in the US and China.

An investigation by the US Geological Survey found that ‘fracking’ and quakes aren’t directly related, but noted, “at some locations the increase in seismicity coincides with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells.”

Human-induced earthquakes would be controversial in a region which experienced one of the deadliest earthquakes in China’s history, which killed nearly 70,000, including 5,335 school children in a 2008 quake in Wenchuan, Sichuan region.

 

Thousands of people flock to look at the devastated town of Beichuan on May 12, 2009 which was destroyed in the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake (AFP Photo / Peter Parks)Thousands of people flock to look at the devastated town of Beichuan on May 12, 2009 which was destroyed in the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake (AFP Photo / Peter Parks)

The boom in oil and gas ‘fracking’ has led to jobs, billions in royalties and profits, and even some environmental gains.

The shale industry boom in the US may add as much as $690 billion to GDP and create 1.7 million jobs by 2020, according to a study by McKinsey and Co. The oil boom has boosted domestic employment, company profits, and GDP in the US, and China is eager to follow suit, even it means drilling in earthquake territory.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, China National Petroleum, and China Petrochemical Corp all currently have drilling operations in the region.

Environmental concerns

Geologists also raise concerns over the amount of water used in ‘fracking’, and whether China’s shale ambitions could run the water supply dry.

China, home to roughly 20 percent of the world’s population, only controls 6 percent of the world’s fresh water supply, and often experiences serious water shortages. Adding ‘fracking’ to this equation could only further exacerbate the problem. Toxic chemicals used in fracking alter the drinking water.

Shale gas is often found ‘in the middle of nowhere’, places that are already prone to water shortages.

Environmentalists in China have also voiced concern over contamination and pollution brought on by ‘fracking’ waste disposal.

Shell’s earnings hit hard by shale gas

Royal Dutch Shell’s earnings fell $1.1 billion in Q2, year on year, blaming poor performance on higher operating costs, disruptions in Nigeria, and a weakening Aussie currency. Total revenue fell by 5.6 percent.

Net income fell by 57 percent in the second quarter, which was partly due to $2.2 billion the company had to write off on shale exploration and development in the United States.

China’s eagerness to exploit shale gas opens an opportunity for foreign investors looking for a start-up opportunity.

“In the next 18 months we expect to see five major project start-ups, which should add over $4bn to our 2015 cash flow,” said Peter Voser, CEO of Shell, said in relation to quarterly results.

Shell is planning to sell four more oil blocks in Nigeria, and is eyeing selling other assets in the Niger Delta, where oil theft and violence has stunted revenue.

It has already sold eight Niger Delta licenses for a total $1.8bn since 2010, but has publicly announced it remains committed to operations in Nigeria.

from:    http://rt.com/business/china-gas-shale-earthquake-895/

Turning Air into Oil — A New Alchemy?

Scientists turn fresh air into petrol: is breakthrough a milestone on the road to clean energy?

 264 12 907

By Steven Connor
Friday, 19 October 2012

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A small British company has produced the first “petrol from air” using a revolutionary technology that promises to solve the energy crisis as well as helping to curb global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Air Fuel Synthesis in Stockton-on-Tees has produced five litres of petrol since August when it switched on a small refinery that manufactures gasoline from carbon dioxide and water vapour.

The company hopes that within two years it will build a larger, commercial-scale plant capable of producing a ton of petrol a day. It also plans to produce green aviation fuel to make airline travel more carbon-neutral.

Tim Fox, head of energy and the environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, said: “It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. They are doing it and I’ve been up there myself and seen it. The innovation is that they have made it happen as a process. It’s a small pilot plant capturing air and extracting CO2 from it based on well known principles. It uses well-known and well-established components but what is exciting is that they have put the whole thing together and shown that it can work.”

Although the process is still in the early developmental stages and needs to take electricity from the national grid to work, the company believes it will eventually be possible to use power from renewable sources such as wind farms or tidal barrages.

“We’ve taken carbon dioxide from air and hydrogen from water and turned these elements into petrol,” said Peter Harrison, the company’s chief executive, who revealed the breakthrough at a conference at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.

“There’s nobody else doing it in this country or indeed overseas as far as we know. It looks and smells like petrol but it’s a much cleaner and clearer product than petrol derived from fossil oil,” Mr Harrison told The Independent.

“We don’t have any of the additives and nasty bits found in conventional petrol, and yet our fuel can be used in existing engines,” he said.

“It means that people could go on to a garage forecourt and put our product into their car without having to install batteries or adapt the vehicle for fuel cells or having hydrogen tanks fitted. It means that the existing infrastructure for transport can be used,” Mr Harrison said.

Being able to capture carbon dioxide from the air, and effectively remove the principal industrial greenhouse gas resulting from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal, has been the holy grail of the emerging green economy.

Using the extracted carbon dioxide to make petrol that can be stored, transported and used as fuel for existing engines takes the idea one step further. It could transform the environmental and economic landscape of Britain, Mr Harrison explained.

“We are converting renewable electricity into a more versatile, useable and storable form of energy, namely liquid transport fuels. We think that by the end of 2014, provided we can get the funding going, we can be producing petrol using renewable energy and doing it on a commercial basis,” he said.

“We ought to be aiming for a refinery-scale operation within the next 15 years. The issue is making sure the UK is in a good place to be able to set up and establish all the manufacturing processes that this technology requires. You have the potential to change the economics of a country if you can make your own fuel,” he said.

The initial plan is to produce petrol that can be blended with conventional fuel, which would suit the high-performance fuels needed in motor sports. The technology is also ideal for remote communities that have abundant sources of renewable electricity, such solar energy, wind turbines or wave energy, but little in the way of storing it, Mr Harrison said.

“We’re talking to a number of island communities around the world and other niche markets to help solve their energy problems.

“You’re in a market place where the only way is up for the price of fossil oil and at some point there will be a crossover where our fuel becomes cheaper,” he said.

Although the prototype system is designed to extract carbon dioxide from the air, this part of the process is still too inefficient to allow a commercial-scale operation.

The company can and has used carbon dioxide extracted from air to make petrol, but it is also using industrial sources of carbon dioxide until it is able to improve the performance of “carbon capture”.

Other companies are working on ways of improving the technology of carbon capture, which is considered far too costly to be commercially viable as it costs up to £400 for capturing one ton of carbon dioxide.

However, Professor Klaus Lackner of Columbia University in New York said that the high costs of any new technology always fall dramatically.

“I bought my first CD in the 1980s and it cost $20 but now you can make one for less than 10 cents. The cost of a light bulb has fallen 7,000-fold during the past century,” Professor Lackner said.

Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/environment/scientists-turn-fresh-air-into-petrol-is-breakthrough-a-milestone-on-the-road-to-clean-energy-16226456.html?r=RSS&google_editors_picks=true#ixzz2AcOxkHRU

Abiotic Oil Theory

Here is some information.  Is it true?  The research needs to be done:

Abiotic Oil a Theory Worth Exploring

September 14, 2011 RSS Feed Print

It’s our nature to sort, divide, and classify. We label ourselves to identify political leanings, religious beliefs, the food we enjoy, and the sports teams we cheer. The oil industry too has its own distinct labels which include the “Peak Oil” theorists, those who believe the world is fast depleting the finite supply of fossil fuel; and the pragmatists, those who recognize that engineering and technological advances in oil drilling and extraction continuously identify new reserves that make oil plentiful.

And there’s a third group you may not know. These people are deeply interested in oil and its origins, but their advocacy of “abiotic theory” has many dismissing them as heretics, frauds, or idealists. They hold that oil can be derived from hydrocarbons that existed eons ago in massive pools deep within the earth’s core. That source of hydrocarbons seeps up through the earth’s layers and slowly replenishes oil sources. In other words, it turns the fossil-fuel paradigm upside down.

[Read: How Much Oil is There?]

Perhaps the breakthrough for this theory came when Chris Cooper’s story appeared April 16, 1999, in The Wall Street Journal about an oil field called Eugene Island. Here’s an excerpt:

Production at the oil field, deep in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, was supposed to have declined years ago. And for a while, it behaved like any normal field: Following its 1973 discovery, Eugene Island 330’s output peaked at about 15,000 barrels a day. By 1989, production had slowed to about 4,000 barrels a day.

Then suddenly—some say almost inexplicably—Eugene Island’s fortunes reversed. The field, operated by PennzEnergy Co., is now producing 13,000 barrels a day, and probable reserves have rocketed to more than 400 million barrels from 60 million. Stranger still, scientists studying the field say the crude coming out of the pipe is of a geological age quite different from the oil that gushed 10 years ago.

According to Cooper,

Thomas Gold, a respected astronomer and professor emeritus at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, has held for years that oil is actually a renewable, primordial syrup continually manufactured by the Earth under ultrahot conditions and tremendous pressures. As this substance migrates toward the surface, it is attacked by bacteria, making it appear to have an organic origin dating back to the dinosaurs, he says.

All of which has led some scientists to a radical theory: Eugene Island is rapidly refilling itself, perhaps from some continuous source miles below the Earth’s surface. That, they say, raises the tantalizing possibility that oil may not be the limited resource it is assumed to be.

More recently, Forbes presented a similar discussion. In 2008 it reported a group of Russian and Ukrainian scientists say that oil and gas don’t come from fossils; they’re synthesized deep within the earth’s mantle by heat, pressure, and other purely chemical means, before gradually rising to the surface. Under the so-called abiotic theory of oil, finding all the energy we need is just a matter of looking beyond the traditional basins where fossils might have accumulated.

The idea that oil comes from fossils “is a myth” that needs changing according to petroleum engineer Vladimir Kutcherov, speaking at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. “All kinds of rocks could have oil and gas deposits.”

Alexander Kitchka of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences estimates that 60 percent of the content of all oil is abiotic in origin and not from fossil fuels. He says companies should drill deeper to find it.

Is abiotic theory the real deal? Is Eugene Island “Exhibit A?”  Look how long it’s taken for this conversation to reach a tipping point!

from:   http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/on-energy/2011/09/14/abiotic-oil-a-theory-worth-exploring

Victor Stenger on Science & Religion

Victor Stenger

Physicist, PhD, bestselling author

The Fall of Foolish Faith

Posted: 03/ 9/2012 1:12 pm
 From a talk on March 4, 2012 at the CFI Meeting, “Moving Secularism Forward,” Orlando.

I want to talk about a particular group of secularists — scientists — and their interaction with religion. Most scientists prefer to stay out of any conflicts with religion. They don’t want to endanger their sources of research funding and generally just don’t want to be bothered. They have better things to do, or at least they think they do.

I want to urge those of you who are not scientists to try to convince those who are to stop pussyfooting around with religion and confront the reality of what it is and always has been — a blight on humanity that has hindered our progress for millennia and now threatens our very existence.

Scientists have to help the rest of the secular community to work toward reducing the influence of religion to the point where it has negligible effect on society. I don’t believe this is impossible. Astrology and the reading of sheep entrails are no longer used to decide on courses of events, such as going to war. Why can’t we expect the same for the imagined dialogues with an ancient tribal sky god that at least one recent president has used to justify his actions?

Let’s look at some of the places where scientists have been slow to recognize the negative impact that religion is having on important scientific matters. Since the 1850s, human population has exploded causing an unsustainable exploitation of Earth’s resources. This growth cannot continue indefinitely. Only by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and leveling population can we expect to survive.

Rather than helping, religion hinders these efforts by discouraging birth control and other absolutely essential measures needed to achieve these goals.

Already, three million people die every year from the pollution caused by fossil fuels and biomass. And this will only increase if we continue on the present path.

However, a livable future is not out of our reach. Liquid thorium nuclear reactors could provide the world with all the energy it needs for a thousand years, safely, with minimal environmental impact, and no application to nuclear weapons. If they had thorium reactors, there would have been no Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl, or Fukushima disasters. The only reason uranium and plutonium are used in nuclear reactors is you can build bombs with them. You can’t build bombs with thorium.

Solar power would already be economically competitive with oil, if the economy were to properly price oil to include the costs of its damage to the environment, human health, and the military needed to defend sources and transport. Imagine a world without oil. I can.

So why don’t we move in these directions already clearly marked out by science? Because since the late nineteenth century we have lived in a plutocracy in which petroleum and other fossil energies dominate almost every sector of our economy by virtue of the enormous wealth they bring to their producers and distributers.

Now, what does this have to do with religion? Since prehistoric times religion has served as the handmaiden to those in power, helping them to maintain that power. Tribal chiefs, kings, and emperors always had shamans and priests at their sides to assure their subjects that they led by divine right.

In America today, petro-dollars fuel a giant Christian propaganda machine that works to undermine the efforts of scientists to find solutions to the problems that face us with overpopulation, pollution, and climate change. They use techniques that were pioneered 30 years ago by the tobacco industry to suppress the evidence that smoking causes cancer and heart disease. And these techniques exploit the antiscience that is inherent in religious belief.

A new technique that in recent years has been added to the arsenal of global warming denialism is to frame climate change as a theological issue. Global warming deniers say that God would never allow life on Earth to be destroyed. After all, he gave humans dominion over the planet. Besides, the world is coming to an end soon anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

Republican politicians are in the forefront of the battle over climate change. John Shimkus, Republican of Illinois, has said that climate change is a myth because God told Noah he would never again destroy Earth by flood. All the current Republican presidential candidates have either always said climate change was a hoax or have backed off previous statements in which they agreed that warming is taking place.

The Cornwall Alliance for The Stewardship of Creation has issued what it calls “An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming.” The statement asserts that Earth and its ecosystems are “robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying the glory of God.” The statement denies that Earth and its ecosystems are the “fragile and unstable products of chance,” and particularly that Earth’s climate system is vulnerable to dangerous alteration because of what they call “minuscule changes in atmospheric chemistry.” The Cornwall statement claims that there is no convincing scientific evidence that greenhouse gases produced by human activity are causing dangerous global warming. It also denies that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and claims that reducing greenhouse gases cannot achieve significant reductions in future global temperatures

Approximately 500 people, including a large number of non-expert scientists and other academics, endorsed this statement. This is not simply the view of a small fringe group but that of the large majority of Evangelical Christians, who wield far more influence than their actual numbers justify.

While the petrocrats use science in every aspect of their businesses, they hypocritically exploit the antiscience that is inherent in religion in order to undermine any scientific findings that threaten their power and fortunes.

Most scientists do not realize that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible. This is not because they have thought about it. It is because they prefer not to think about it.

Fundamentalists know science and religion are incompatible, since science disputes so much of what is in the Bible, which they take as the literal word of God. To them, science is simply wrong and must be Christianized. A well-funded effort exists to do just that, while most scientists sit on the sidelines because they prefer not to get involved.

But science and religion have always been at war, and always will be. One of yesterday’s speakers said that he did not like to use the word “religion” but rather called it a “belief system.” Well, there are different kinds of belief systems. Science is a belief system based on reason and evidence. Religion is a belief system based on bullshit.

Moderate Christians claim they support science, but they still hold to beliefs that have no empirical basis. Moderates will tell you that they accept evolution, but then they insist it is still guided by God. This is not Darwinian evolution. This is intelligent design. There is no guidance, divine or otherwise, in Darwinian evolution.

A recent phenomenon is the joining of forces between the climate change deniers and evolution deniers, who have no link other than a common motivation based on religion. Several legislatures have passed bills requiring teachers to present “all sides” of the evidence on evolution and global warming. Now, that would be no problem if the arguments on all sides were presented accurately and honestly. But we know that’s unlikely to happen, since the only purpose of these bills is to create the illusion of scientific controversy on topics where, in truth, a strong consensus within the scientific community exists. It’s like demanding equal time for flat-earth geology.

Christopher Hitchens once said that he was not just opposed to organized religion, but also to religious belief. Religion would not be such a negative force in society if it were just about going to church socials and celebrating rites of passage. However, the magical thinking that becomes deeply ingrained whenever faith rules over facts warps all areas of life. It instills superficial beliefs which, having been adopted without reason, cannot be displaced by reason. Magical thinking ignores evidence and favors whatever opinion is the most convenient or socially acceptable. While scientists also tend to follow the crowd, at least they can be convinced to change their minds when the data warrant it.

Magical beliefs are not just limited to religion, but extend to economics, politics, and health. It’s not that the public lacks information. Today we’re all inundated with information, especially on the Internet. However, much of that data is untrustworthy and it takes a trained thinker to filter out the good from the bad. Magical thinking and blind faith are the worst conceivable mental system we can apply under these circumstances. They allow the most outrageous lies and stupidities to be accepted as facts.

Nowhere is this more evident than in America today where the large majority of the public hold on to a whole set of religious and pseudoscientific beliefs despite the total lack of evidence to support these beliefs, and indeed, in the face of strong evidence that denies them. This is the folly of faith and demonstrates why it must be fought. Relying on blind faith is no way to run a world.

As I have noted, religious believers are being manipulated to work against their own best interests in health and economic well-being in order to cast doubt on well-established scientific findings. This would not be possible except for the diametrically opposed world-views of science and religion.

Science and religion are fundamentally incompatible because of the opposing assumptions they make concerning what we can know about the world. Every human alive is aware of a world that seems to exist outside the body, the world of sensory experience we call the natural. Science is the systematic study of the observations made of the natural world with our senses and scientific instruments. The knowledge gained in this manner has proved effective when applied to human needs.

By contrast, all major religions, including Buddhism, teach that humans possess an additional “inner” sense that allows us to access a realm lying beyond the visible world–a divine, transcendent reality we call the supernatural. If it does not involve the transcendent, it is not religion. Religion is a set of practices intended to communicate with that invisible world and use its forces to affect things here on Earth.

The working hypothesis of science is that careful observation is our only reliable source of knowledge about the world. Natural theology accepts empirical science and views it as a means to learn about God’s creation. But religion, in general, goes much further than science in giving credence to other claimed sources of knowledge such as scriptures, revelation, and spiritual experiences.

No doubt, science has its limits. However, the fact that science is limited doesn’t mean that religion or any alternative system of thought can or does provide insight into what lies beyond those limits. For example, science cannot yet show precisely how the universe originated naturally, although many plausible scenarios exist. But the fact that science does not–at present–have a definitive answer to this question does not mean that ancient creation myths such as those in Genesis have any substance, any chance of eventually being verified.

The scientific community in general goes along with the notion that science has nothing to say about the supernatural because the methods of science, as they are currently practiced, exclude supernatural causes. I strongly disagree with this position. If we truly possess an inner sense telling us about an unobservable reality that matters to us and influences our lives, then we should be able to observe the effects of that reality by scientific means.

If someone’s inner sense were to warn of an impending earthquake unpredicted by science, which then occurred on schedule, we would have evidence for an extrasensory source of knowledge.So far we see no evidence that the feelings people experience when they perceive themselves to be in touch with the supernatural correspond to anything outside their heads, and we have no reason to rely on those feelings when they occur. However, if such evidence or reason should show up, then scientists will have to consider it whether they like it or not.

We cannot sweep under the rug the many serious problems brought about by the scientific revolution and the exponential burst in humanity’s ability to exploit Earth’s resources made possible by the accompanying technology. There would be no problems with overpopulation, pollution, global warming, or the threat of nuclear holocaust if science had not made them possible. The growing distrust of science found now in America can be at least partially understood by observing the disgraceful examples of scientists employed by oil, food, tobacco, and pharmaceutical companies who have contributed to the unnecessary deaths of millions by allowing products to be marketed that these scientists knew full well were unsafe.

But does anyone want to return to the prescientific age when human life was nasty, brutish, and short? Even fire was once a new technology, and through the ages a lot of people have died in fires. But we don’t stop lighting them. Unsafe products are more than overshadowed by drugs, foods, medical knowledge, and technologies, which have made all our lives immeasurably better than those of humans in the not-too-distant past. At least in developed countries, women now rarely die in childbirth and most children grow to adulthood. This was not the case even just a few generations ago. Unlike our ancestors, most of us lead long, fulfilling lives largely free of pain and drudgery. The aged are so numerous that they are becoming a social problem. All this is the result of scientific developments.

We can only solve the problems brought about by the misuse of science by adhering to the scientific method, and by more rational behavior on the part of scientists, politicians, corporations, and citizens in all walks of life. Religion, as it is currently practiced with its continued focus on closed thinking and ancient mythology, is not doing anything to support the goal of a better, safer world. In fact, religion actively and vigorously opposes that goal.

Religion has destroyed our trust by its repeated failure. Using the empirical method, science has eliminated smallpox, flown men to the moon, and discovered DNA. If science didn’t work, we wouldn’t do it. Relying on faith, religion has brought us inquisitions, holy wars, and intolerance. Religion doesn’t work, but we still do it.

Science flies us to the moon. Religion flies us into buildings.

Science is not going to change its commitment to the truth. And religion is not going to change its commitment to nonsense. And that is why I call upon scientists and all thinking people to focus their attention on reducing the influence of religion in the world, with the goal of the eventual fall of foolish faith. The future depends on it.

from:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/the-fall-of-foolish-faith_b_1333412.html?ref=religion-science