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Do oil companies pay their fair share?
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 4686

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CB--the two problems are infrastructure, and the density of BTU's. There is no question that there are more BTU's in diesel and gasoline than natural gas--yet the supply of natural gas is much larger and less subject to long-term price increases that are as steep. Infrastructure requires a carrot and a stick, but has come along (slowly) in California where we know from experience that regulation is crucial to air quality. We've been hearing "we can't do, it's too expensive" from oil and car companies for more than a generation. Yet somehow our economy is solid, our air is dramatically cleaner, and our carbon footprint is pretty low.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13317

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

coboardhead wrote:
It is possible to bi-fuel (gasoline and cng) just about any vehicle and credits have been available from the Feds. Yet, it is slow to catch on and has very little public awareness.

Its price only recently dropped from $13 to $2. Give it some time ... and a brighter administration.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5485

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

coboardhead,

You indicated earlier that you were investigating installing a CNG spigot at home, so I'm wondering a little more about the general costs involved. I'm thinking that the process of compressing natural gas would require not only an available gas line, but also some special equipment to accomplish the task. Is the equipment large and bulky, and are there a myriad of regulations relative to its use, particularly those requiring a safety space surrounding it?

Lastly, by converting a vehicle to run on CNG, can it still run on gasoline too? In other words, can one easily switch from CNG to gasoline through use of simple controls or valves?
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1849

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

swchandler

One can purchase a Honda Civic from a dealer for 25K or less that will run on CNG. It has a range of about 250 miles. It qualifies for CA HOV lanes and possible tax credits. You can fill at stations thoughout CA (I think there are a hundred or so) and throughout the US if you VERY carefully plan your route.

CNG filling at home requires a natural gas service and a device called a PHILL (I think they run about $5k) which is a small compressor (hangs on the wall of the garage) and will fill the car over night. Natural gas here less than $2.00 per gasoline equivalent gallon (adjusted for reduced BTU) Prices in stations vary. Filling at stations is quicker because the gas is already compressed.

I checked into purchasing a Ford Transit Van (Microvan) for windsurfing. They prep a package for CNG and then a private vendor will convert. Costs were around $8K for the converstion, when I looked at it last year, but a tax credit was available for 50%. If you do a bi-fuel (gas and CNG) the costs are similar, but the credit was reduced by 50%. I know that these credits are up for extension, but do not know if they are approved for 2012.

Tanks will take up some storage space in the vehicle. Economically speaking, It will take nearly 100 k miles to pay for the natural gas Honda (and home filling option) over a standard version at today's relative prices.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5485

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yikes! Seems that a home system can be quite pricey. The following one comes in at around $5K, and that doesn't even address vehicle modification.

http://motors.shop.ebay.com/__?_from=R40&_trksid=p3841.m39.l1313&_nkw=cng%20phill&_sacat=&clk_rvr_id=330826848030&MT_ID=335&crlp=6781020884_9887&tt_encode=raw&geo_id=491&keyword=cng+phill&adgroup_id=1621366964
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1849

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

swchandler

It's like any of the new technology, including solar. The market is not producing enough product to get the prices down yet. I think the home fueling stations were eligible for a tax credit also at some time.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5485

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No doubt coboardhead, you make good points. Also, I have to say that I'm with you on targeted tax credits and incentives, particularly at a time where there is a long term gain that can be realized over time when attempting to stimulate an important change. While I think we all realize that traditional sources of energy will be with us for quite some time, there's good reason to open up alternatives so that they can gain some momentum and potentially realize the numbers that will ultimately drive down prices to be more competitive. If my home wasn't located under a huge tree, I would definitely entertain installing a solar system.
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mrgybe



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
Posts: 2454

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just read the comments on Exxon, and the "Gusher" extract in the New Yorker. Very amusing. The ace New Yorker reporter refers to Dan Nelson when disparaging Exxon's Washington lobbying activities. Just a detail........Dan Nelson hasn't worked for Exxon for more than a year...........I know him well...........he retired last year. The article also speaks about Exxon directing its PAC funds to Republicans. A complete fabrication. No company can direct the funds in its PAC. Each contributing employee specifically directs his or her contribution. Unlike union contributions, it is illegal for any company to direct how those PAC funds are spent.

However predictable and superficial the New Yorker article appears to be, it is in the minor leagues when it comes to the ignorance of the assertion that Exxon is lobbying to delay the use of natural gas for transportation purposes. Exxon's reserves are 47% liquids and 53% gas. Three years ago it purchased XTO, a large natural gas company, for $40+billion, giving a clear indication that it is betting a future huge market for natural gas. At the last shareholder meeting XOM's President said ""Natural gas will be the fastest growing major energy source and will overtake coal as the second largest global energy source behind only oil". Yet our oil company expert in Berkeley accuses XOM of torpedoing the growth in the use of natural gas. Draw your own conclusions as to his credibility in this arena.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 4686

PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny guy. A minor throw away line becomes his latest crusade. The drivers, as usual, are economic. Which are a combination of the cost per BTU and the cost of the necessary infrastructure. What I said was "inertia and oil company lobbying". Having seen it directly, I just might know what I am talking about.

Here is an interesting set of factoids on what the costs of different energy sources are, without an apparent ax to grind:

Quote:
As we continue to develop biomass as a renewable source of energy, it is important to keep the cost of energy in mind, because this has a very strong influence on the choices governments and individuals will make. I sometimes hear people ask “Why are we still using dirty coal?” You will see why in this post.

Last year I saw a presentation that projected very strong growth in wood pellet shipments from Canada and the U.S. into Europe. My first thought was “That doesn’t sound very efficient. Why don’t we just use those here in North America?”

It didn’t take very long for me to find out the answer to that. It is because wood pellets are much more expensive than natural gas in North America. On top of that it takes more effort to use wood for energy than it does natural gas. That combination means that wood has a tough time competing with natural gas in North America.

When I was looking into that issue, I compiled a list of the price for various energy types on an energy equivalent basis. The price is as current as possible unless noted. I have converted everything into $/million BTU (MMBTU), and the sources are listed below.

My preference is to use EIA data over NYMEX data because the former is an archived, fixed number. I have included energy for heating and for various transportation options. For comparison I also included the cost of electricity and the cost of the ethanol subsidy/MMBTU of ethanol produced.

Current Energy Prices per Million BTU

Powder River Basin Coal – $0.56
Northern Appalachia Coal – $2.08
Natural gas – $5.67
Ethanol subsidy – $5.92
Petroleum – $13.56
Propane – $13.92
#2 Heating Oil – $15.33
Jet fuel – $16.01
Diesel – $16.21
Gasoline – $18.16
Wood pellets – $18.57
Ethanol – $24.74
Electricity – $34.03

Observations

It isn’t difficult then to see why wood pellets have a difficult market in the U.S. For people with access to natural gas, they are going to prefer the lower price and convenience of natural gas over wood. For Europe, their natural gas supplies aren’t nearly as secure, so they have more incentive to favor wood as an option.

The cost of the ethanol subsidy is interesting. We pay more for the ethanol subsidy than natural gas costs. However, if you consider that we are paying a subsidy on a per gallon basis – and a large fraction of that gallon of ethanol is fossil fuel-derived, the subsidy for the renewable component is really high.

For instance, if we consider a generous energy return on ethanol of 1.5 BTUs out per BTU in, that means the renewable component per gallon is only 1/3rd of a gallon. (An energy return of 1.5 indicates that it took 1 BTU of fossil fuel to produce 1.5 BTU of ethanol; hence the renewable component in that case is 1/3rd). That means that the subsidy on simply the renewable component is actually three times as high – $17.76/MMBTU. Bear in mind that this is only the subsidy; the consumer then has to pay $24.74/MMBTU for the ethanol itself.


It answers a question that came up yesterday--at these prices, plug-in hybrids are not a viable long term solution. Natural gas is about 1/3 the price of gasoline, even if the BTU's are harder to carry around. Coal is dirt cheap--and it is probably a good business, geo-political stability, and environmental practice to increase use of coal as long as you mitigate the increased CO2 emissions. Oh for a rational energy policy. Perhaps one that wasn't developed in Dick Cheney's office with Exxon pointing the correct way?
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 4686

PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Source: http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2010/01/19/prices-of-various-energy-sources/
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