Thursday, September 15, 2005

Natural Gas Depletion

In the kitchen of my family's summer cabin, where we have a propane tank to run the stove, you can cook, until all of a sudden the flame dims and its gone. Gas fields are like that - gone all of a sudden. With oil fields you can install a pump jack, and when oil is gone you can let it rest every other day, or something, and a little oil will squeeze out for a long time. My understanding is that gas is different, when its gone its gone.

The undersea pipelines off the gulf coast are worrisome. We have no idea of the extent of the damage. I read in the NYT about how the pipelines are made to be sort of 'disposable', in that they are automatically shut in places, with breakage links built in. The idea being you can't make them invulnerable to damage, but you can make them cheaper and easier to repair.
Or that’s my interpretation from here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/15/business/15gulf.html
This is a very interesting article, BTW, on how the gulf energy infrastructure will rebuild.
But huge underwater mudslides are a big deal. Suppose a wellhead is buried? I bet they'd have to re-drill.

I wonder what we'd do in this country with no adequate natural gas supply. I think we'd make synthetic gas from coal, or crude oil, much like Seattle's defunct gasworks (now gasworks park) did. It would be very expensive, but we need to keep those pipelines filled, stoves lit, houses warm, etc. But the electric generation from gas? That’s different - I wonder if it will be economical to run them on synthetic gas at all? And where else will we get electricity? Nukes maybe? We don't seem to have the time - gas will run out before we can get enough plants built. We don't have the money either - the US dollar will devalue soon, and we have no savings at all, as a nation.

We can import some gas in LNG tankers, but that is another huge energy infrastructure we'd have to build, and it only makes us MORE dependent on foreign countries for our energy supply.

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