Sunday, April 22, 2012

Getting tougher to find oil

Getting tougher to find oil
Posted by Robert Morley at 7:22 pm on March 13, 2012
Those people worrying about rising gas prices might be interested in the following article. Courtesy of the Globe and Mail, it is revealed that Exxon Mobile, the world’s largest oil company, announced its intention to spend a whopping $150 billion over the next five years to find oil and gas. From the article:
In a statement issued ahead of a presentation at the New York Stock Exchange, ceo Rex Tillerson said huge investments are needed to expand the supply of traditional fuels like oil and gas while also advancing new energy sources. Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded energy company, expects global energy demand to increase 30 percent by 2040, compared with 2010 levels.
Notice that Exxon expects global energy demand to increase by 30 percent by 2040. In light of that, notice this next startling statement by the Globe.
Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., bp plc and Royal Dutch Shell all produced less crude last year than in the prior year. They’re struggling to tap new sources of oil fast enough in an environment where big finds are rarer and costlier to exploit. Potential fields lie deep under the seabed, or in shale rock formations that require expensive technology to crack open. When Exxon can’t find oil fast enough, it is stuck with existing fields where production is declining.
Four of the world’s biggest oil companies have falling production profiles. They each produced less oil last year than the year before.
The price of oil may be set to skyrocket over the next few years. Energy demand, especially from the developing world, is skyrocketing, while oil production is flat at best or falling.
Since gasoline prices are linked to the price of crude oil, and crude oil is sold on the international market, expect gasoline prices to follow the price of oil. And that is not good news for consumers, or the global economy. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Algae biofuels in Iceland!

Algae Might Replace Imported Fuel in Iceland
Biodiesel could be produced from algae in such quantities that it could replace imported fuel and Iceland even has the potential to export biodiesel, according to Ásbjörn Torfason, managing director of Vistvæn orka ehf.

Archive photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Ásbjörn states that energy-saving light emitting diode technology and access to geothermal energy makes circumstances to produce biodiesel from large algae or seaweed unique, Fréttablaðið reports.

He reasons that judging by the amount of fuel imported in 2011, two million tons of biomass would have to be produced to replace it. “But it is absolutely reasonable; in an experiment in Norway, they harvested 40-50 tons of dry weight from every hectare.”

His company is planning to take samples next summer to look for areas suitable for algae cultivation. “We advertised for biologists for this project and have received many applications from very qualified people,” Ásbjörn said.

The next step would be experimental cultivation offshore in selected locations.

Experiments with producing biodiesel from algae have been launched by companies such as Statoil, DuPont and Novozymes.

However, cultivation abroad is said to be limited by suitable areas and access to energy resources for the production process; heat centrifugation is used to extract biodiesel from algae.

Ásbjörn has his sights set on a few areas that could be suitable for such fuel production in Iceland, including the Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland, Þeistareykir and by Krafla in the northeast, where geothermal power plants are planned or at hand.

A few types of fuel can be produced from algae, such as biogas, bioethanol and biobutanol which are very similar to gasoline. Byproducts can also be used as either animal fodder or fertilizers.

Vistvæn orka has achieved success in the development of light emitting diode technology, which is used for lighting in greenhouses for various cultivation purposes.

It greatly reduces the energy usage during cultivation, or by 50 percent compared to conventional greenhouse lamps.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Biofuel worldwide in Brief: Rapid dominance.

Qantas flies on biofuel
Australian airline Qantas has become the nation's first airline to operate a commercial flight on a 50/50 blend of biofuel and traditional jet fuel.
13 April 2012

Australian airline Qantas has become the nation's first airline to operate a commercial flight on a 50/50 blend of biofuel and traditional jet fuel.

The Airbus A330 flew from Sydney to Adelaide using renewable jet fuel derived from recycled cooking oil.

The airline hopes its biofuel-powered flight will encourage Australia to develop a sustainable, commercial aviation fuel industry.

The biofuel used on the flight has a lifecycle carbon footprint that is 60% smaller than that of conventional jet fuel.

The current price of jet fuel makes it Qantas' largest operational expense, which forced it to increase its fuel surcharge two times in as many months.

Qantas expects its fuel costs to reach $2.25 billion (€1.7 billion) in the six months to June, after a $300 million hike.

The airline has also announced that it is to conduct a feasibility study into the potential for an Australian sustainable aviation fuel industry, backed by funding from the nation's government.

13 April 2012

Qatar Airways is looking to use greener jet fuel in its aircraft in order to lower its GHG emissions and meet CO2 targets.

The airline has said that it plans to invest in California, US-based jet fuel manufacturer Byogy Renewables to produce a cleaner, alcohol-based jet fuel. This would include an investment of up to 10% in addition to an off-take agreement.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

Byogy believes its alcohol-to-jet fuel production process will receive support from ASTM International by the end of 2013.

Jet fuel costs rise again
State-owned oil companies increased the price of jet fuel in India for the third time in March.

Qatar plans to be operating a couple of flights on its Europe routes using Byogy's renewable drop-in fuel by the end of 2014.

Using alcohol as a feedstock for aviation fuel would help airlines reduce their carbon output at a time when they are working to adhere to the emissions targets set by the Air Transport Association (ATA). The ATA hopes to stop the growth of emissions from 2020 and slash GHGs by 50% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

Qantas hikes fuel surcharges
Australian airline Qantas Airways could increase its surcharges on fuel by 9.7% in a move to remain profitable at a time when jet fuel costs continue to soar

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

India Israel Algae Biodiesel

* Targets over $200 mln in sales in 2013

* First projects to grow algae in India starting in 2012

* Aims to reach cost of $50 a barrel

By Tova Cohen

TEL AVIV, April 4 (Reuters) - Algae-based biodiesel producer World Health Energy Holdings (WHEN) plans to begin two commercial projects in India this year and is targeting over $200 million in sales in 2013.

The first project, with Prime Inc of India, will grow algae on 250 acres at a cost of $100 million and produce $150 million in biodiesel as well as protein for animal and fish feed or that can be turned into ethanol, WHEN Chairman Chaim Lieberman said.

Prime, which provides infrastructures and transportation services to oil companies, will put up the funding in exchange for a 70 percent stake in the project.

The second project, with SHK Energy Projects of India, will comprise a $25 million, 45-acre algae farm expected to bring in $35 million in revenue.

"We are working on setting up operations for both projects this year and be operational by June 2013," Lieberman told Reuters. "We are also in talks with utilities in South Africa and Italy and the U.S. Navy for similar projects."

WHEN, which merged with an over-the-counter listed shell company, competes with larger firms such as KiOR and Solazyme. But Lieberman said most of the competitors focus on distilling cellulose from algae into ethanol.

"We grow fattier species of algae and squeeze out oil," he said, noting biodiesel was a much larger market than ethanol.

The U.S.-Israeli WHEN has completed a pilot project in the Beit Shean region of eastern Israel and has sold small amounts of algae to the pharmaceutical industry in Israel.

The London-born Lieberman, who studied western, eastern and aboriginal medicine, said the problem with algae-based biodiesel has been cost, noting that when he started out 11 years ago it cost more than $2,000 a barrel to produce.

"We have found a way to grow algae and cut 95 percent of the cost," Lieberman said. "When we scale up the project we will reach $50 a barrel."

WHEN's innovations include a wave machine to keep the algae moving and recyclable plastic sleeves to maintain a closed environment that can easily be replaced if contaminated.

Lieberman said algae has several advantages over other green energy sources such as corn, soy or palm oil.

"You're not stealing a food source like with palm oil and if you're looking for jet fuel it costs less to refine algae because it has a higher octane," he said.

The same amount of land will produce 180 times the quantity of oil from algae than corn or soy. WHEN also uses non arable land and recycled or even sea water to grow algae.

The company is backed by Oris Investments, a clean tech fund. Managed by Yuval Rabin, son of assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, the fund has invested $1.5 million in WHEN, which also has several private investors.

The company does not plan at this point to raise more money but is seeking joint ventures similar to the ones it has in India. WHEN also aims to be commercially viable rather than depend on government subsidies.

"The point is to be self sufficient as a commodity business," Lieberman said. (Editing by Anthony Barker)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Aqualia eyes large-scale algae biofuel production

Water management company Aqualia plans to launch a commercial-scale demonstration project using waste water to cultivate algae for biofuel production, which could fuel 400 vehicles, the firm said on Monday.

Spain's Aqualia, owned by construction and services company FCC, in collaboration with European partners, has already started construction of algae culture ponds at a waste water treatment plant in Chiclana, northern Spain, which should be able to produce 500 litres of biodiesel a year and 1,500 cubic meters of biomethane.

The project will cultivate fast-growing micro-algae by using the nutrients in waste water and converting it into biofuels like biodiesel and biomethane which can be used in transport fuel.

If 3,000 kilograms of dry algae a day can be produced with an oil content of 20 percent, the project will be ramped up to commercial-scale size of 10 hectares to produce 200,000 litres of biodiesel a year and 600,000 cubic meters of biomethane - together enough to fuel 400 cars, Aqualia said at a briefing.

"Today we are wasting resources and producing useless sludge. Now we can use it to produce biofuel and have a positive impact," Frank Rogalla, innovation and technology manager at Aqualia, told Reuters.

Micro-algae has benefits over first generation biofuel crops like palm oil, sugar cane and canola, said Rogalla. It can be grown in as little as three days and has needs less land than other biofuel crops.

"Oil productivity can be 10 to 20 times higher than from any known plant," Rogalla said.

More than half the 12 million euro ($15.9 million) project has been funded by the European Commission, which is aiming for 10 percent of energy used in transport in the European Union to be derived from renewable sources by 2020.

Analysts doubt the EU will be able to meet its 2020 targets for cutting transport fuel emissions if it excludes some biodiesel feedstocks which could release as many climate-warming emissions as conventional diesel.

Most biofuels are currently derived from land crops, including sugar cane, maize and vegetable oil, which have been criticized for competing with food production for water and land resources, prompting the search for alternatives.

Some of the alternatives being explored - called second generation biofuels - come from wood, waste, grasses and agricultural residues and from algae.


However, algae biofuel has only been demonstrated at small scale and has not been cost effective. Many researchers estimate that production of micro-algae biodiesel on a commercial scale is at least ten years away.

With an oil yield of 25 percent typical for many algae species, the industry would need to be scaled up at least 300 times to produce 5 percent of the diesel used in the UK in 2009, according to a UK government report in 2010.

Algae biofuels would also need to be able to compete with the price of conventional oil.

"We need to decrease the cost of production by five times to be competitive with oil," Rogalla said.

"We think it could be competitive with fossil fuels by 2015, but I could be wrong by a year or two."

The race is on to develop the first commercial-scale plant. The United States government has invested $78 million into algae biofuel research.

"I think we will be the first in Europe," Rogalla said. ($1 = 0.7557 euros)

(Reporting by Nina Chestney. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Marine algae genome sequence for improved algae biodiesel

ScienceDaily (Apr. 3, 2012) — Researchers at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute have assembled the draft genome of a marine algae sequence to aid scientists across the US in a project that aims to discover the best algae species for producing biodiesel fuel.

The results have been published in Nature Communications.
The necessity of developing alternative, renewable fuel sources to prevent a potential energy crisis and alleviate greenhouse gas production has long been recognized. Various sources have been tried -- corn for ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel, for example. But to truly meet the world's fuel needs, researchers must come up with a way to produce as much biofuel as possible in the smallest amount of space using the least amount of resources.
Enter algae. Unlike other crops like corn or soybeans, algae can use various water sources ranging from wastewater to brackish water and be grown in small, intensive plots on denuded land. While algae may still produce some C02 when burned, it can sequester C02 during growth in a way that fossil-fuel based energy sources obviously can't.
Scientists in VBI's Data Analysis Core (DAC), Robert Settlage, Ph.D., and Hongseok Tae, Ph.D., assisted in the assembly of the genome of Nannochloropis gaditana, a marine algae that may be capable of producing the lipid yields necessary for a viable fuel source.
"Getting the data is now the easy part. What we're doing in the DAC is enabling researchers to move beyond informatics issues of assembly and analysis to regain their focus on the biological implications of their research," said Settlage.
Further analysis revealed that with fairly straightforward genetic modification, N. gaditana should be capable of producing biofuel on an industrial scale, which may be the wave of the future in fuel research and production.

Argentina , one of leading biofuel producer

EDF partner crude glycerine from Argentina
Thursday, 05 April 2012 11:29
ED&F Man signs agreement for crude glycerine
Amsterdam 3 April, 2012 ED&F Man signed an agreement with BioMCN for the sourcing, risk management and delivery of crude glycerine from Argentina. Argentina is quickly becoming the world’s largest producer of biodiesel and its residue crude glycerine. With this agreement BioMCN and ED & F Man will combine their mutual expertise in the area of sourcing crude glycerine and will operate as one sourcing organization.
BioMCN is the largest second generation biofuels producer in the world, producing and selling industrial quantities of high quality bio-methanol from sustainable renewable resources, including crude glycerine. Bio-methanol can either be blended directly with gasoline, and/or it can be used as a feedstock for other environmentally-friendly fuels such as bio-MTBE, biodiesel and bio-DME. It is also used for a variety of bio-based chemical applications, including plastics and paints.
"We are very pleased with this agreement with BioMCN, as we see BioMCN as an important player in the glycerine industry. We are proud to be chosen by BioMCN to source their crude glycerine and we look forward to our ongoing relationship with them. We are one of the leading providers of sugar, coffee, financial services and liquid products for feed, food or technical use, such as molasses and glycerine. In our chosen commodities we provide a comprehensive range of supply chain services from production, sourcing, storage, delivery to risk management. This agreement is therefore a perfect fit for both companies", says Arie van der Spek, Trading Director at ED & F Man.
Rob Voncken, CEO of BioMCN: "This agreement with ED & F Man is another important step in securing the supply of renewable feedstock. We are particularly pleased with ED & F as partner, because of its strong position and broad experience in Latin America. Their expertise in shipping bulk products is a valuable addition to our business. Furthermore ED & F Man is ISCC certified, meaning that we can demonstrate sustainability of our feedstock throughout the entire supply chain."
About ED &F Man
ED & F Man is a leading provider of several chosen commodities, logistics and risk management services. ED & F Man is an employee owned company with over 4,000 employees working in around 50 countries around the world. This global infrastructure provides the company with an in depth knowledge of its markets.
For more information about ED & F Man, please visit:, or contact
ED & F Man
Arie van der Spek (Trading Director)
+31 20 754 01 11
Maarten Simons (Edelman)
+31 20 301 0980

From Rubbish Bin to Jet Engine

By Omogen Reed

Waste management and disposal is big business. Each of us helps create many kilograms of waste each year. Exactly how much varies, but in the United States (the world ‘leader’ in waste generation), the figure is 760 kilograms, per person, per year. Much of it ends up in landfill, and much of it will stay there for decades. Burying waste in landfill can cause serious environmental problems. Landfill waste can work its way into groundwater, polluting it. It can encourage vermin, especially if it is poorly managed or poorly sited (as it often is in developing countries). It makes land prone to subsidence: owners of houses built over landfill better make sure they have good landlords insurance. Couldn’t there be a better way to get rid of our rubbish?
Waste as Fuel
There could. Rather than burying waste in landfill, it can be used as fuel. This helps solve two environmental problems: waste is kept out of landfill, and it is used in place of polluting fossil fuels. Different types of waste can have different applications. Organic waste is perhaps the most useful, as it can be converted into a petrol or diesel alternative. With adaptation, vehicles can easily run on decomposed food waste. General rubbish collected from households can be taken to a processing plant, and the organic waste extracted. Micro-organisms are used to process the fuel into ethanol, and that ethanol can be used to run vehicles. Using organic matter to power cars might sound unlikely, until you remember that oil is itself decomposed organic matter.
Other types of waste can also be used to create electricity. Simply burning it would just create a new set of emissions, but technologies are being developed that can gasify waste, creating electricity from it without the need for incineration. These technologies have yet to reach their potential, but there are several projects worldwide, with interest and funding from the big players in energy generation starting to get involved. Several plants are in the planning stages in the US, including one in Wisconsin, which will supply power to 4000 homes.
One of the most impressive of all the waste-to-fuel projects is British Airways’ plan to convert the household waste generated by Londoners into jet fuel. They intend to build a plant in the city that will be capable of converting half a million tonnes of rubbish into 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel. That is only 2% of their annual fuel needs, but they say that if the plan works, they’ll seek to expand it. With the rising cost of fuel an increasing problem for airlines, BA’s rivals may well be keeping a watchful eye on developments.
At the wackier sounding end of the scale is a plan to convert human waste into fuel. Supported by a grant from the Bill Gates Foundation, researchers at Columbia University are looking to produce biodiesel and methane from ‘fecal sludge’. The biodiesel can be used to power engines, and the methane can be converted into electricity.
Landfill Gas
Projects that keep rubbish out of landfill are welcome, but what about the rubbish that is already there? That, too, can be utilised. As it decomposes, landfill creates methane gas emissions. This methane can be harvested and used to create electricity, and can also be converted into natural gas for use as power. An extraction well is drilled down into the landfill to extract the gas, and a pipeline takes it to a processing plant. As methane is many times more polluting than carbon dioxide, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere from landfill sites is hugely beneficial.
The Future?
Waste looks likely to play an important part in the future of power generation. Some technologies are now well-established, while others still have a way to go. However, with oil reserves dwindling, the use of waste as fuel is attracting some serious investment. Using waste as fuel doesn’t involve any extra production: the waste is already there. In future, just as buildings can be constructed so that they recycle their own greywater, you could see buildings that create their own power using their own waste. Perhaps we might see waste collection departments in cities across the world close down, as residents use their own waste to heat their homes and power their cars?