Category Archives: Energy

Novel diamond composite drill bit to improve steerability

Schlumberger introduces new and novel diamond composite drill-bit which allows for deeper cutting –  which will improve steerability on the curve.

The  distinctive geometry of Hyper* hyperbolic diamond cutting elements that cut 20% deeper into rock compared with conventional polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) cutters. A thicker, precision-molded diamond table makes the Hyper element tougher and more durable for drilling soft and plastic rock formations, while armored cutting edges withstand high-impact transitions.

Additionally, bit balling is mitigated by the chip-breaking profile at the center of the element, which improves cuttings removal during drilling. With the combination of these features, the HyperBlade bit maintains steerability and directional tracking, and increases average ROP by more than 20% compared with conventional PDC cutters.

The HyperBlade bit has undergone extensive field testing in North America, specifically in the Denver-Julesburg and Appalachian Basins. In the Marcellus Formation in northern Pennsylvania, the HyperBlade bit drilled an 8 ½-in section with a measured depth of 6,891 ft in 16.6 drilling hours. The operator achieved an on-bottom ROP of 415 ft/h, resulting in a 62% improvement compared with offset runs using conventional PDC bits.

Coal Boom in Australia

Australia is on the brink of opening up a massive, untapped coal province after Adani committed to begin construction of its ­controversial Carmichael mine project in central Queensland befor­e Christmas and the approval by the Queensland Government of the Mac-Mines coal mine

After almost a decade of ­delays, legal challenges and protest­s, the Indian conglomerate is planning to begin exporting high-quality thermal coal from the Galilee Basin, west of Mackay, by the end of 2020.

Adani’s decision to self-fund a scaled-down version of its original mine-rail proposal — involving what would have been Australia’s biggest-ever coalmine — could pave the way for five other propos­ed mines in the basin. Its planned rail link to the Abbot Point port will be opened for use to Adani’s rivals, with an initial coal-hauling capacity of 40 million tonnes a year that could be doubled within a few years.

Last week, Queensland’s Co-ordinator-General approved the proposed $6.7 billion Chinese-backed MacMines coalmine in the Galilee Basin.  Read the Mac Mines EIS here.




Coal Boom – The Australian

Science supports hydraulic fracturing, moratorium lifted on existing projects

After much lobbying APPEA has announced the Western Australian Government’s decision to lift the hydraulic fracturing moratorium on existing onshore gas projects.

How many studies need to be done to confirm that fracking kilometres beneath the surface of the planet has no material impact on the surface or the near surface waters?  We all know this has nothing to do with actual environmental impact and everything to do with a  small subset of the left that detests Capitalism  – the one “ism” that has made the world a better place as distinct from the others that have merely killed tens of millions.

Buru Energy fracking operation on the Valhalla North well-site in the Kimberley region of Western Australia

“The independent scientific inquiry has confirmed that properly regulated, hydraulic fracturing is a safe practice.  Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely in Western Australia since 1958,” said APPEA Chief Executive Dr Malcolm Roberts.

“The inquiry shows there is no environmental or public health justification for maintaining the moratorium.  The inquiry also rejects claims that onshore projects will mean a significant increase in emissions.

“While the industry would have preferred the removal of the moratorium across the state, this decision will give communities in regional WA the choice to support local projects and jobs.

“More than any other state, WA relies on investment in resource projects to sustain jobs and economic growth.  The government has made the right decision to respect the substantial investments already made by projects in the Kimberley region and the Perth basin.

Dr Roberts said prohibiting hydraulic fracturing would have crushed the viability of some of these projects, damaging WA’s reputation as a safe place for investment.

“The government has added a new regulatory requirement which will only allow these projects to use hydraulic fracturing for producing gas with the approval of the landowner,” Dr Roberts said.

“The industry respects that we operate on someone else’s land to develop a natural resource owned by the community.

“WA producers have close working relationships with traditional owners and pastoralists.

“During the inquiry, many regional communities expressed strong support for local gas projects.  The right of these communities to make their own decisions must be respected, including by anti-gas activists.”

Will the Climate crash the economy?

Headlines warned of economic doom after the U.S.  government released its 4th National Climate Assessment (“NCA”).  Steven Koonin takes a close look at the numbers and their impacts and concludes that the overall economic impact of human-caused climate change is anticipated to be very small indeed.  We incorporate some of his comments in the commentary below.  See end of this article for relevant NCA downloads.

Steven E. Koonin is a theoretical physicist and Director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. He is also a professor in the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering.  He was Under-Secretary of energy, during the Obama Administration.

As has been seen, particularly in the last 20 year, predicting the impact of human-caused carbon emissions on global climate has proved to be exceedingly challenging with estimates for surface temperature increases being uncertain by a factor of three.  Further estimating the economic impacts of postulated temperature changes decades into the future, simply compounds the uncertainty and takes no account of our ingenuity in mitigating the impacts.

Koonin reports that on careful examination the report’s actual numbers as distinct from the hyperbole, turn out to be far less alarming.  “The final figure of the final chapter shows that an increase in global temperatures of 9 F° (beyond the 1.4 F° rise recorded since 1880) would directly reduce the U.S. gross domestic product in 2090, by 4%, plus or minus 2% – that is the GDP would be 4% less than it would have been absent human influences on climate”.

This projection is a worst-case scenario assuming the largest plausible temperature increase.  It takes no account of mitigation.

  • If it is conservatively assumed that the U.S. GDP grows at a sluggish 2% through 2100 (note that it has averaged 3.2% since 1935 and is currently growing at 4.2%);
  • That would result in an economy in 2090, 400% larger than that of today;
  • A 4% climate impact in 2090 would reduce that multiple to 380%. This correction is much smaller than the error in the temperature or economic projections offered in the NCA report;
  • This equates to an annual decrease in GDP growth of a mere 0.05%. If the impact were real then without the estimated effect of said temperature increase, the last U.S. 4th quarter GDP figure would have been 4.25% rather than 4.2%, an un-measurable difference within the limits of error;
  • The U.S economy because of the postulated economic impact would be a mere 2 years behind in 2090, absent the impact of man-made climate change;

If we assume that the conclusion in the NCA report are correct, then it becomes obvious that the economic impact of any plausible temperature increase on the U.S or the global economy would be minimal.  Indeed, any number of other impactors could have a far greater effect.  For example, changes in regulations, trade, taxation, technology or external or internal conflicts could and have in the past had a far higher annual impact than the 0.05% reduction in GDP proposed by the NCA report.  Further, a more likely scenario would be for a significantly lower temperature increase and the impact on GDP growth would be increasingly, un-measurable.

It is worth recalling the widely discredited claims made in 2006, by Nicholas Stern (the economic consultant for the British Prime Minister) when he published The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review, in which he wrote that if no timely actions were taken in the following decades, climate change would result in the loss of 5%–20% of global GDP.  More than 10 years on and there is no evidence of his exaggerated GDP impacts.  The IPCC 2014 report concluded that a 5 F° rise in temperature would have a 3% impact on global GDP by 2100 – which would diminish the growth in global GDP to 385% from 400%.  Even the IPCC knows that the impact of any plausible global temperature increase is minimal at best.

The media and not surprisingly the political commentary on the NCA conclusions is little more than alarmist and even based upon the author’s own conclusions, the economic impact of postulated human-induced global temperature change is likely to be un-measurable over the short and probably the long term.  The global economy has little to fear from human climate impacts.

Report in Brief
Chapter 28:  Reducing Risks through Adaption  Actions
Chapter 29: Reducing Risks through Mitigation

Seismic Terror – Russian Propaganda?

BBC Radio 4. Credit: BBC Radio 4The Times, Matt Ridley

Last Saturday, BBC Radio 4 ran throughout the day with headline news about the shale-gas company Cuadrilla causing “micro-earthquakes” in Lancashire, as if the ground was trembling. It wasn’t. The tremors from fracturing gas-soaked shale rock more than a mile below the surface, picked up by ultrasensitive sensors, were far too weak to be felt at the surface. They were never going to threaten the integrity of the steel and concrete casing of the gas well itself, as some activists have since claimed.

The vibrations were tens of thousands of times less powerful than the kind of tiny earthquake that, according to the official Richter scale, “almost never cause damage”. They were smaller than the vibrations that can be routinely caused by quarrying, artillery training, mining, tunnelling, passing lorries, underground trains, geothermal wells, pile driving and building works. (Even thunder can cause seismic waves.)

There was a 3.1 magnitude natural earthquake on September 15 at 6.39pm near Newton Aycliffe in Durham. That’s several thousand times as powerful as anything caused by the recent fracking. Nobody reported feeling it, according to the British Geological Survey.

British regulations say that anything over 0.5ML (local magnitude) triggers a “red traffic light”. This has been interpreted as meaning that fracking must stop for good. Not so. As the geophysicist James Verdon from Bristol University explains, when the traffic light goes red, you don’t scrap your car, you stop for a short period till the light changes, then drive on. That’s exactly how the shale-gas traffic light is designed: if there is a tremor, then the company fracking the well must pause for some hours to let further vibrations settle, before resuming work.

Britain’s threshold of 0.5 is far more sensitive than that used in other countries, such as Canada. As Francis Egan, the chief executive of Cuadrilla, points out, if any other industry had to stop work when it triggered 0.5ML vibrations, then “you’d never get a wind farm built, you’d never get Crossrail built” and many HGVs would be off the roads.

The Russians are spreading anti-shale propaganda to protect their exports. Yet because a few fanatics have decided to campaign furiously against fracking, are we to turn our backs on this vital industry?

Absurdly Restrictive Rules Hamper Fracking – Increasing costs and Reducing Efficiency

Cuadrilla’s Fracking Operation Credit: The Times

Financial Time October 31st, 2018

The head of the energy company that is seeking to become the first in the UK to start commercial fracking for gas has warned the government that its regulatory system risks “strangling” the nascent industry.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, called on the government to relax operating rules that have forced the company to halt work several times after it unleashed earth tremors at its fracking site in northern England.

Fracking has revolutionised the US energy industry, and Cuadrilla is hoping to replicate this success in the UK, although it has encountered strong opposition from environmental protesters worried about pollution and earthquakes.

Since it began fracking tests on October 15 at its Little Plumpton site near Blackpool, Cuadrilla has caused 31 tremors, including three that were of sufficient magnitude under its operating rules to require the company to stop work.

Mr Egan said the government needed to move “within weeks” to relax the rules covering Cuadrilla or it may never discover if the UK’s shale gas resources are commercially viable.

“It could be strangled before birth, this thing,” he told the Financial Times.

Hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — involves pumping water, sand and chemicals deep under the ground at high pressure to release gas from rock formations, often in wells that run horizontally rather than vertically.

Under Cuadrilla’s operating licence, the company has signed up to a so-called traffic light system devised by the government that requires it to stop work if activity above 0.5 on the Richter seismic scale — a level imperceptible to humans — is detected.

Over the past two weeks, three tremors measuring more than 0.5 have been recorded — the highest one being 1.1. These three constitute “red lights” that require a halt to operations.

Mr Egan said the government should allow Cuadrilla to maintain operations amid tremors measuring up to 2.0 on the Richter scale — a level he insisted would pose no risk of damage to the surrounding area.

Other countries including Canada and the US allow seismic activity well above 2.0, he added.

Read Full Text

2TW of Coal Fired Power to Derail Climate Targets

Coal fired Power Plant, Credit: African Briefing

Financial Times, 31 October 2018

Leslie Hook, David Sheppard and Myles McCormick

A fleet of new coal plants in Asia threatening to derail global emissions targets has exposed the growing “disconnect” between energy markets and climate goals.

Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency, said the growth of coal-fired power in Asia was worrying because the new plants would “lock in the emissions trajectory of the world, full stop”.

Asia has 2,000GW of coal-fired power plants that are operating or under construction — more than 10 times as much as the EU — and many of them are inefficient plants.

While the coal fleets in the US and Europe are older, 42 years on average, and nearing the end of their life, Asia’s coal plants are just 11-years-old on average and most still have decades left to operate.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions ticked up 1.4 per cent last year, following several years of staying flat, and are set to rise again in 2018 owing to greater demand for fossil fuels. Asia accounted for two-thirds of the growth in emissions last year.

Last year China’s coal-fired power generation grew 4 per cent, while India’s rose 13 per cent, according to IEA data. The rate of investment in the construction of new coal-fired power plants, however, also slowed down last year, according to the agency………

Read full Text



U.N. Ignores Economics Of Climate

New Nobel laureate  and Yale Professor, William Nordhaus says the costs of proposed CO2 cuts aren’t worth it.

Wall Street Journal, Bjorn Lomberg, 10th October 2018.

Yale’s William Nordhaus wins 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics

The global economy must be transformed immediately to avoid catastrophic climate damage, a new United Nations report declares. Climate economist William Nordhaus has been made a Nobel laureate. The events are being reported as two parts of the same story, but they reveal the contradictions inherent in climate policy—and why economics matters more than ever.

The laureates of the Nobel Prize in Economics displayed on the screen, William Nordhaus, left, and Paul Romer during a press conference at the The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Monday Oct. 8, 2018. Yale University’s William Nordhaus was named for integrating climate change into long term macroeconomic analysis and New York University’s Paul Romer was awarded for factoring technological innovation into macroeconomics. (Henrik Montgomery/TT via AP)

Limiting temperatures to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, as the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urges, is economically and practically impossible—as Mr. Nordhaus’s work shows.

The IPCC report significantly underestimates the costs of getting to zero emissions. Fossil fuels provide cheap, efficient power, whereas green energy remains mostly uncompetitive. Switching to more expensive, less efficient technology slows development. In poor nations that means fewer people lifted out of poverty. In rich ones it means the most vulnerable are hit by higher energy bills.

The IPCC says carbon emissions need to peak right now and fall rapidly to avert catastrophe. Models actually reveal that to achieve the 2.7-degree goal the world must stop all fossil fuel use in less than four years. Yet the International Energy Agency estimates that in 2040 fossil fuels will still meet three-quarters of world energy needs, even if the Paris agreement is fully implemented. The U.N. body responsible for the accord estimates that if every country fulfills every pledge by 2030, CO2 emissions will be cut by 60 billion tons by 2030. That’s less than 1% of what is needed to keep temperature rises below 2.7 degrees. And achieving even that fraction would be vastly expensive—reducing world-wide growth $1 trillion to $2 trillion each year by 2030.

The European Union promises to cut emissions 80% by 2050. With realistic assumptions about technology, and the optimistic assumption that the EU’s climate policy is very well designed and coordinated, the average of seven leading peer-reviewed models finds EU annual costs will reach €2.9 trillion ($3.3 trillion), more than twice what EU governments spend today on health, education, recreation, housing, environment, police and defense combined. In reality, it is likely to cost much more because EU climate legislation has been an inefficient patchwork. If that continues, the policy will make the EU 24% poorer in 2050.

Trying to do more, as the IPCC urges, would be phenomenally expensive. It is important to keep things in perspective, challenging as that is given the hysterical tone of the reaction to the panel’s latest offering. In its latest full report, the IPCC estimated that in 60 years unmitigated global warming would cost the planet between 0.2% and 2% of gross domestic product. That’s simply not the end of the world.

The new report has no comparison of the costs and benefits of climate targets. Mr. Nordhaus’s most recent estimate, published in August, is that the “optimal” outcome with a moderate carbon tax is a rise of about 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. Reducing temperature rises by more would result in higher costs than benefits, potentially causing the world a $50 trillion loss.

Read the Full Article

Low Carbon Policy to Harm Global Forests

Europe’s decision to promote the use of wood as a “renewable fuel” will likely greatly increase Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and cause severe harm to the world’s forests, according to a new comment paper published in Nature Communications. The authors posit that this new directive “will lead to a vast new cutting of the world’s forests” as additional wood equal to all of Europe’s existing wood harvests will be needed just to supply 5 percent of Europe’s energy.

Forest clearing: Hamilton Urban Forest Coalition.

European officials agreed on final language for a renewable energy directive earlier this summer that will almost double Europe’s use of renewable energy by 2030. Against the advice of 800 scientists, the directive now treats wood as a low-carbon fuel, meaning that whole trees or large portions of trees can be cut down deliberately to burn. Such uses go beyond papermaking wastes and other wood wastes, which have long been used for bioenergy.

The paper also estimates that using wood for energy will likely result in an increase of 10 to 15 percent in emissions from Europe’s energy use by 2050. This could occur by turning a 5 percent decrease in emissions required under the directive using solar energy or wind energy into a 5 to 10 percent increase by using wood.

Europe’s increased wood demand will require additional cutting in forests around the world, but the researchers explain the global impact is likely to be even greater by encouraging other countries to do the same. Already, tropical forest countries like Brazil and Indonesia have announced they, too, will try to reduce the effect of climate change by increasing their use of wood for bioenergy.

Forest clearing Indonesia, Laudato ‘si:

Although wood is renewable, cutting down and burning wood for energy increases carbon in the atmosphere for decades to hundreds of years depending on a number of factors, the researchers explained. Bioenergy use in this form takes carbon that would otherwise remain stored in a forest and puts it into the atmosphere. Because of various inefficiencies in both the harvesting and burning process, the result is that far more carbon is emitted up smokestacks and into the air per kilowatt hour of electricity or heat than burning fossil fuels, the authors explained.

While regrowing trees can eventually reabsorb the carbon, they do so slowly and, for years, may not absorb more carbon than the original forests would have continued to absorb. This results in long periods of time before bioenergy pays off the “carbon debt” of burning wood compared to fossil fuels.

The paper also explains why the European directive’s sustainability conditions would have little consequence. Even if trees are cut down “sustainably,” that does not make the wood carbon free or low carbon because of added carbon in the atmosphere for such long periods of time.

The directive also misapplies accounting rules for bioenergy originally created for the U.N. Framework Convention Climate Change(UNFCCC). Under the rules of that treaty, countries that burn wood for energy can ignore emissions, but countries where the trees were chopped must count the carbon lost from the forest. Although this rule allows countries switching from coal to wood to ignore true emissions figures, it balances out global accounting, which is the sole purpose of those rules, and does not make bioenergy carbon free.


Stephen Croft Wood fired Power Station. The plant is fuelled entirely by biomass material. Over 480,000 tonnes of fuel is needed to power the station every year.

The system does not work for national energy laws, which will be required by the directive. If power plants have strong incentives to switch from coal to carbon-neutral wood, they will burn wood regardless of any real environmental consequences. Even if countries supplying the wood report emissions through UNFCCC, those emissions are not the power plants’ problem.

Finally, the paper highlights how the policy undermines years of efforts to save trees by recycling used paper instead of burning it for energy. Also, as the prices companies are required to pay for emitting carbon dioxide increases over time, the incorrect accounting of forest biomass Europe has adopted will make it more profitable to cut down trees to burn.

Original Research

This comment raises concerns regarding the way in which a new European directive, aimed at reaching higher renewable energy targets, treats wood harvested directly for bioenergy use as a carbon-free fuel. The result could consume quantities of wood equal to all Europe’s wood harvests, greatly increase carbon in the air for decades, and set a dangerous global example.

In January of this year, even as the Parliament of the European Union admirably voted to double Europe’s 2015 renewable energy levels by 2030, it also voted to allow countries, power plants and factories to claim that cutting down trees just to burn them for energy fully qualifies as low-carbon, renewable energy. It did so against the written advice of almost 800 scientists that this policy would accelerate climate change1. This Renewable Energy Directive (RED) is now finalized. Because meeting a small quantity of Europe’s energy use requires a large quantity of wood, and because of the example it sets for the world, the RED profoundly threatens the world’s forests.

Makers of wood products have for decades generated electricity and heat from wood process wastes, which still supply the bulk of Europe’s forest-based bioenergy2,3. Although burning these wastes emits carbon dioxide, it benefits the climate because the wastes would quickly decompose and release their carbon anyway. Yet nearly all such wastes have long been used4.

Over the last decade, however, due to similar flaws in the 2008 RED, Europe has expanded its use of wood harvested to burn directly for energy, much from U.S. and Canadian forests in the form of wood pellets. Contrary to repeated claims, almost 90% of these wood pellets come from the main stems of trees, mostly of pulpwood quality, or from sawdust otherwise used for wood products5.

Comments from the Authors

Tim Beringer, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
“The directive reverses the global strategy of trying to subsidize countries to protect their forests and their carbon. Instead of rewarding countries and landowners to preserve forests and the carbon they store, this directive encourages companies to pay them for the carbon in their forests, but only on the condition that they cut the trees down and ship them to Europe to be burned.” 

Bjart Holtsmark, Statistics Norway
“Although the directive encourages countries to harvest wood to burn, it does not require that they do. Countries should follow alternative strategies, focusing on solar in meeting European requirements for more renewable energy.”

Dan Kammen, University of California-Berkeley 
“Compared with the vast majority of what counts as ‘bioenergy by harvesting wood,’ solar and wind have large advantages in land-use efficiency and lower and lower and lower costs. The focus on wood is not only counterproductive for climate change but unnecessary.” 

Eric Lambin, Stanford University and Université catholique de Louvain
“Treating wood as a carbon-neutral fuel is a simple policy decision with complex cascading effects on forest use, energy systems, wood trade and biodiversity worldwide. Clearly, many of these effects have not received due attention.”

Wolfgang Lucht, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
“It makes no sense at all to save trees through recycling and then turn around to burn them for energy. There is nothing green, renewable, or environmentally friendly about that. Global forests are not disposable. The European Union should wake up and limit the role of bioenergy in the transition to renewable energies.”

Peter Raven, Missouri Botanical Society
“Any increased demand for wood as fuel will have huge negative impacts on global biodiversity because many kinds of forests throughout the world, including the most biodiverse, will also end up being cut to satisfy the endless demand locally and to send to rich countries as they exhaust their own managed forests.”

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Université catholique de Louvain
“European citizens once more experienced the harsh effects of global warming this summer. In the name of reversing climate change, this counterproductive policy will increase deforestation and carbon emissions rather than contribute to decreasing them. More emissions will only make the summers even hotter for decades to centuries.”

Madagascar announces 2018-19 offshore licensing round

OMNIS, in partnership with TGS and BGP, announce a licensing round in Madagascar, to be launched at Africa Oil Week, 5-9th November 2018.

Exploration in Madagascar began in the early 20th century with the discovery of heavy oil-rich sedimentary basins in the west, however this frontier region remains relatively under-explored. The Island shares a maritime boundary with Mozambique, which is in the same oil province where large quantities of natural gas have been discovered. Studies conducted in collaboration with TGS and BGP have resulted in new data that suggest there is significant potential for future discoveries both on and offshore.

“With the aim of intensifying offshore exploration activities, we are delighted to announce that OMNIS will be inviting investment from interested parties, during a licensing round to start in November 2018. We are working together with TGS and BGP to create an attractive environment for exploration in the offshore, and we are confident that this will signal the start of renewed investment for the upstream oil sector in Madagascar,” Voahangy Nirina Radarson, General Manager of OMNIS, commented.

We are looking for an industry partner who can leverage our local knowledge and presence in Madagascar to secure some of the most prospective offshore acreage in East Africa.  Email: