Sunday, January 31, 2016

Coal per Energy Outlook 2016 by ExxonMobil

Subtitle:  Coal Consumption Not Clear - Figures Don't Match

A new Energy Outlook for the next 25 years (2016-2040) from ExxonMobil, EM, (see link) has quite a bit to say about one of the major global fuels, coal.   This article discusses EM's points, and offers a few perspectives consistent with other articles here on SLB.  In short, coal use will decline over the next few decades, on that both SLB and EM agree.   The reasons for the decline are different.  EM states countries' desire to reduce CO2 emissions, in an effort to save the planet from global warming.   SLB contends there is no man-made global warming, only man-made false measurements.  However, SLB contends that there is a limited supply of coal, extractable at economic prices, and that supply will be exhausted within 50 to 60 years.   The time frame to coal exhaustion can be much shorter, if developing countries burn more and more coal relative to current use.  

The EM statements:

"Global demand for (total) energy rises by 25 percent 2014-2040" –EM Energy Outlook 2016, p. 15. 

The most striking development in power generation is expected to be the shift away from coal – the dominant energy source in this sector – and the rise in cleaner fuels such as natural gas and renewables."  (Ibid, p. 44).  

"Coal provides about 30 percent of world’s electricity in 2040, vs. 40 percent in 2014."   (Ibid, p. 46)

Coal, currently the world’s second-largest fuel, is expected to see global demand peak around 2025 and then begin to decline. This decline will be led by the industrial and power generation sectors, as businesses improve energy efficiency and switch to fuels with lower CO2 emissions. By 2040, coal will account for 20 percent of global energy demand, down from about 25 percent in 2014.”  (Ibid, p. 56)


Analyzing the EM statements, and numbers, it can be seen that tons of coal used for electricity increases almost 24 percent  (assuming that each ton of coal has consistent heating value).  This is from the EM projected increase in electricity production of 65 percent from 2014 to 2040.   Yet, the EM statement on coal providing 30 percent in 2040 vs 40 percent in 2014 of the world's electricity appears to state that coal use will decline.   In fact, the two statements, read together, show that coal use increases 24 percent: as 0.4 x 100 = 40, but 0.3 x 165 = 49.5; then 49.5 divided by 40 is 1.24.    This is a simple calculation where 2014 electricity production is set to 100, and the 2014 production is then 65 percent greater or 165.  

Yet, the EM Outlook has a far different result in the Data table on p. 72 of the Outlook, for coal use in power generation.  There, the number for 2014 is about the same as for 2040: 97 Quads in 2014, and 95 Quads in 2040.   (Quad is quadrillion Btus)   If the Outlook were consistent, then 2040 should have 97 x 1.24 or 120 Quads.    

Global Energy

Next, the global energy statements.  Here, EM states that coal will decline from 25 percent of global energy demand in 2014, to 20 percent in 2040.  However, given the projected increase in global energy demand of 25 percent, the amount of coal used remains constant.  This can be seen by 0.25 x 100 = 25, while 0.2 x 125 = 25.  Again, using simple values, the 100 is global energy demand in 2014, while 125 is the global energy demand in 2040.  

Note, the summary Data table on p. 72 of the Outlook shows 148 Quads in 2014 vs 142 Quads in 2040 for coal world-wide.    148 is close enough to 142 for these purposes, to be essentially no change in coal use.  

Industrial Energy

Where, then, is the decline?  Electrical demand for coal increases, but global energy demand remains constant, per EM.  Therefore, some category must have a decline in coal use.  EM's Outlook has several categories for energy use, electricity, industrial, transportation, and residential plus commercial.   One assumes that agriculture consumes zero energy.   Coal use in transportation is close to zero, or perhaps is included in the catch-all category of "other."    In any event, coal is named in electricity, industrial, and residential plus commercial categories.    The residential plus commercial use is very small to begin with, and declines a bit by 2040.  

The EM Outlook states that coal for industrial purposes will decrease from a bit more than 20 percent in 2014 to approximately 15 percent by 2040, while overall industrial energy grows by 30 percent.   This does, then, show a decline in coal use as 0.22 x 100 = 22, while 0.15 x 130 = 19.5, again where 100 is the 2014 use and 130 is the 2040 use. 

The Data table on p. 72 shows a slight decline from 46 to 44 Quads, 2014 and 2040.   

Commentary by Sowell

It is important to note that ExxonMobil is an oil and gas company, primarily.  They also are active in derivatives from oil such as petrochemicals and lubricating products.   They have a vested interest in selling oil and derivatives, plus selling natural gas.   The Energy Outlook is a convenient way to show all interested stakeholders that the future looks bright for their company, because the demand for their products remains robust.   The company also has a bit of coal mining in the corporate portfolio as ExxonMobil Coal and Minerals Company.  EM conducted some research over the years into coal-to-liquids plants, and coal gasification.   However, it is very clear that oil and gas are more than abundant, while coal is being rapidly exhausted world-wide.  

The Outlook repeatedly describes future activities as moving away from coal, to natural gas because the greenhouse gas emissions are far less.  The above discussion shows where that is likely to occur, in the industrial sector.   EM would be more than happy to provide the natural gas for replacing the coal.  

Earlier on SLB, the stark facts of coal resources, coal consumption, were discussed.  see link.    In summary, there is only approximately 50 years of coal supply remaining, if the present consumption rate continues.  However, developing countries are increasing their annual coal consumption in their efforts to increase electricity production.    

From a power planner's perspective, a coal-fired power plant will last only 40 years, and at most 50 years.   If all countries continue their coal consumption, it would make no sense to build new coal-powered plants at any time after 2025.  However, the US has already passed some forms of regulation on coal (mostly by EPA edicts, not laws passed by Congress and signed by the President).   These coal regulations essentially halted new coal-powered plants, and will very likely result in many coal-powered plants shutting down.   In theory, that would make more coal available to other countries since it will not be burned in the US.  In reality, the US would need major infrastructure to export coal overseas.    

The EM Outlook discusses none of this, not delving into reserves, resources, costs of extraction, and costs of transportation of the various fuels to meet demands in different countries.   Perhaps in future editions those issues will be discussed. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Energy Outlook 2016 from ExxonMobil

Subtitle:  World Cannot Build More than 500 Nuclear Plants in 25 Years

An Energy Outlook for the next 25 years (to 2040) is published and available for downloading, this one is from ExxonMobil (EM).  see link    It has some interesting points, and this article discusses the nuclear plant aspect.   Another article will discuss the coal aspect.   Essentially, EM anticipates 65 percent growth in electricity demand over the 25 year period, from approximately 20 thousand TWh to 33 thousand TWh (TWH is terra-Watt-hours).   Is the 65 percent growth reasonable?  One can quickly determine that a 2 percent annual growth rate yields 1.64 when compounded 25 years, which is close enough for such endeavors.  

Growth in nuclear plant output is described as: "Nuclear capacity to grow by 85 percent 2014-2040, led by China" - pg 46 of the Outlook.   The implications of this statement, if true, are staggering.   First, the number of nuclear power plants that must be completed and started up, per year on average, is 20 plants per year.    There must be approximately 520 new power plants (a few more or a few less, depending on output) in only 25 years.   The 520 is arrived at as follows.

At present, there are 437 nuclear power plants operating in the world, and 85 percent more is then 808 plants.  However, many of the existing plants are old and will shut down well within 25 years, such as almost every plant in the US, Western Europe, and Japan.  With a conservative estimate of 150 such plants shut down due to old age, that then gives 808-437 + 150 equals 521.   There very well could be more plants shut down due to old age.  

The challenge, then, is how to design, obtain approval to construct, then build and place into operation 20 nuclear power plants per year in each of the next 25 years.   For perspective, World Nuclear Report stated that only 5 new reactors started up in 2014.  (Two of those had construction periods of 31 years (Russia), and 33 years (Argentina).  The other three reactors were all in China).  

One can safely assume that the world will NOT build 520 new nuclear plants over the next 25 years.  The logistics and manufacturing required to support building 20 reactors per year simply does not exist.  To mention merely one of those, there are simply too few manufacturing plants to build the heavy-wall, nuclear-grade reactors to turn out 20 new reactors per year.    In addition to the reactors, the plants also require heavy-duty heat exchangers, large pumps, steam turbines, and very large generators.  

For most countries, the time required to construct a new nuclear power plant is approximately 10 years.   Some, as shown above, require far longer.    

In addition, the cooling water required for the nuclear power plants is enormous.  An earlier article on SLB discussed this see link, showing that nuclear plants consume approximately 4 times the amount of cooling water compared to combined-cycle gas turbine power plants.   

Also, finding suitably safe locations is a serious concern for 520 new nuclear power plants, given the earthquake and tsunami risks, as well as radiation releases and their hazards for populated areas.   Professor Derek Abbot discussed this in his excellent article from 2011, published in Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 99, No. 10, pp. 1611–1617, 2011.  The article title is "Is Nuclear Power Globally Scalable?"    see link The list of problem areas that Professor Abbot discusses includes:

1.  Not enough plant sites (away from population, near cooling water, etc)
2.  Land area required per plant
3.  Embrittlement problem
4.  Entropy problem
5.  Nuclear waste disposal
6.  Nuclear accident rate problem 
7.  Proliferation
8.  Energy of extraction (mining dilute ores for uranium)
9.  Uranium resource limits
10. Seawater extraction for uranium
11. Fast Breeder Reactors
12. Fusion Reactors
13. Materials Resources (materials of construction, rare alloy metals)

14. Elemental diversity


ExxonMobil usually has conservative, reasonable publications, however this one seems a bit off on the nuclear power projections for the next 25 years.   Even if nuclear power plants were accepted as safe and economic alternatives to conventional power generation technologies, there are enormous and insurmountable logistics and regulatory issues to overcome to install the requisite number of plants, more than 500 total in only 25 years.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved

Desperate Nuclear Plant Rescue - More Subsidies

Subtitle: Old Nuclear Plant is Losing Money - More Subsidies Proposed

This is becoming a repeating theme:  a nuclear plant operator loses money, announces shutdown; state lawmakers step in to change laws to subsidize the nuclear plant so it can keep operating.    This time around, it is the FitzPatrick nuclear plant, on the shore of Lake Ontario in New York state.   see link   "CNY state legislators sponsor bills trying to save FitzPatrick nuclear plant"   
FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant with Lake Ontario in background (NRC)

These new proposed subsidies are in addition to the long list of existing subsidies that US nuclear power plants enjoy.  see link to "US Nuclear Plants are Heavily Subsidized,"  and see link to "Price-Anderson Act Gives Too Much Protection to Nuclear Plants."

The FitzPatrick plant is due to shut down in 2017.  Lawmakers likely will not garner support for such a subsidy.   The simple fact is that a nuclear plant requires substantial investment in its latter years, after age 30 approximately.   But, with the low prices for electricity due to increasing natural gas power production, especially at night when the nuclear plant will not or cannot reduce its output, it is difficult for plant owners to justify spending the money on nuclear plant upgrades.   FitzPatrick just passed its 40th anniversary (July 1975 startup).  Any money spent on upgrades would not have a long life to return the investment.   It is better to shut down the plant and cut one's losses, instead of spending money and then shutting it down.  

Even though many nuclear proponents insist that nuclear plants run for 60 years, that is not the case.  When FitzPatrick shuts down in 2017, it will have operated only 42 years.   see link  to Truth About Nuclear Power - Part 10,  "Nuclear plants require costly upgrades after 20 to 30 years"   

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Natural Methane Seeps - Very Common

Subtitle: Aliso Canyon Leak Is Nothing New 

An article today (Los Angeles Times, known for False-Alarmism) harps on and on about the leaking methane gas from the Aliso Canyon gas storage system near Los Angeles, California.   The article complains that the methane released will create massive global warming.    What utter rubbish.   (see link to LA Times article)

The fact is that methane is seeping into the atmosphere, naturally, and from thousands of locations worldwide.  It has been seeping, or even venting, for thousands of years.   The tiny bit from Aliso Canyon will not even be a blip on the radar.  

Here is what a 2014 news release from the USGS had to say about newly-discovered natural methane seeps offshore the US Atlantic coast:  (see link)

"Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought, according to a study by researchers from Mississippi State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other institutions.

Methane plumes identified in the water column between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Georges Bank, Massachusetts, are emanating from at least 570 seafloor cold seeps on the outer continental shelf and the continental slope.  Taken together, these areas, which lie between the coastline and the deep ocean, constitute the continental margin.  Prior to this study, only three seep areas had been identified beyond the edge of the continental shelf, which occurs at approximately 180 meters (590 feet) water depth between Florida and Maine on the U.S. Atlantic seafloor."

Other natural methane leaks have existed (and still do) in many places around the world.  One such leak was offshore Santa Barbara, California, with such volume that bubbles were frequent at the ocean surface.  Lightning strikes sometime ignited the gas, and it appeared that the ocean was on fire.   That must have been a strange sight.  Eventually, an oil company obtained permission to cap the methane seep on the ocean floor, trap the gas and pipe it to shore for beneficial use.  

Other natural seeps occur in Indonesia, and many locations in the Middle East.    In fact, one of the several ways that oil companies collect data for decisions on where to drill is to measure methane concentration in water just above the ocean floor.  The idea is that cracks in the seabed allow methane to flow upward into the ocean.  Even if no bubbles form, the methane is dissolved in the water and can be detected.  

Also, here in Los Angeles, one can see methane vents along many streets.  These are associated with underground vaults, such as electric companies install for their equipment.   The methane is prevented from collecting in the underground vaults, and creating an explosive or toxic atmosphere.   The natural leaking of methane is widespread over a huge area of Southern California.  

More examples of natural methane leaks are the explosions a few years ago in a mall in Los Angeles in 1989 and another in 1985.    

One cannot believe the false-alarmism of the global warming crowd.   Natural gas has been seeping out of the ground, and under the sea, for millenia.    Any trip to the Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles will display the frequent bubbles bursting on the liquid tar's surface.   Those bubbles are not air.  Those are methane.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Social Security and The Mess It's In

Subtitle: Win By Living Past Age 80

Social Security payments are a staple of many retirees in the US.  The monthly check may be the only source of income.  For others, it may supplement a pension, savings, a tax-deferred savings plan such as a 401-k plan, or investment income.   This post provides some insight into how Social Security reached its present condition, and dispels some common misconceptions.  

The agency was created in 1935 to provide "old age benefits" for the elderly.   The system works today by collecting a percentage of most workers' paychecks (not all workers, though), and disbursing monthly payments to eligible persons, mostly retirees.   

One of the commonly held beliefs is that Social Security does not pay back the money a person paid in during his working life.  That belief may be true, but then again it may not, depending on circumstances.  More on this below. 

At first, the number of people paying into the system was much, much greater than those on the receiving end.   Only a small percentage was required from each worker's paycheck. 

Under the system today, the employer contributes 7.65 percent of the gross pay, and the employee also contributes 7.65 percent for a total of 15.3 percent.   There are annual limits to how much the government collects from each person, with the compensation amount for 2015 set at $118,500.   Fifteen-point-three percent of $118,500 is then $18,130 paid into Social Security.   However, a small portion of this now goes to Medicare, so that Social Security actually receives 6.2 percent from each of the employee and employer.   Note, for additional detail, the 1.45 percent for Medicare applies to all earnings.  

To make the system somewhat easier to follow, the remaining part of this article uses 15 percent.   

For a person who has earned and still earns the maximum annual income, and is due to retire in 2016 at age 66, one can determine the amount he would have paid into Social Security as 45 years of working (age 22 through age 66) and beginning salary of $17,700 and final salary of $118,500 in 2016.   For simplicity, the calculation assumes a linear increase in salary over the 45 years, and the average salary was $61,000.   The total amount paid into Social Security was $413,700.   The maximum monthly payment to the retiree in 2016 is $2,663, with the annual amount of 12 payments at $31,956.   To recover all of the money paid in, the retiree must collect for 12.9 years, or to age 79.   Should he live longer, he collects more than he paid in.   This is based on no interest on any of the funds. 

The same is true, essentially, for the retiree who elects to retire early at age 62 or at the older age of 70.  He collects a lower monthly amount at 62, but breaks even at age 79.   
Therefore, it can be seen that a person will not receive back the money he paid in if he dies before age 79.  

In the US, mortality statistics show that only approximately 83 percent of those who are soon to retire reach age 62, and only 78 percent reach age 66.   More importantly, almost the entire cohort of the current group, the Baby Boomers, are expected to die by age 80.  Only approximately 1 or perhaps 2 percent will live to age 80 and beyond.    The 20 percent (roughly) that paid into the system but died before age 66 will not receive any money.  However, there is a provision for widows and widowers to receive money based on a deceased spouse's earnings.  

Also, unlike a private investment, social security payments to do not flow into the deceased's estate for distribution to heirs.   

The chart below shows the expected survival rate of Baby Boomers, by age.   The graph is interpreted as having 100 people alive at age 14.  Then, at every subsequent age, one can determine the number of people still alive.  This includes deaths of all causes.   The curve is the average of all persons, including male and female, and all races.   As is widely known, women live slightly longer than do men, and whites live slightly longer than do blacks.  Asians live slightly longer than do whites.   Reasons for these disparities in longevity are written about extensively in various literature sources.  
From statistics on mortality from Center for Disease Control
One of the issues with Social Security is the large cohort of Baby Boomers that will retire over the next 10 to 15 years.  The assertion is that too many people will be collecting Social Security relative to the number of people in the workforce that are paying into the system.

How does one create more people working, to pay into the Social Security system?  Many policy decisions in the past have worked against such an outcome.  High wages, in part driven by organized labor and in part driven by government minimum wage laws, led to manufacturing in overseas factories where labor rates are lower.    One has only to remember, or perhaps look up, the unions that held strikes over increased wages.   This ultimately led to fewer jobs in the US.   Also, higher wages and reduced costs of some forms of manufacturing led to jobs lost to automation.  An example that is on almost every street corner is the loss of bank teller jobs, as automated teller machines, ATMs, were placed on sidewalks and in businesses.   Many, many other jobs also were replaced by automation, such as robotic welding machines in manufacturing.   Another way that jobs were lost is from excessive environmental regulations, such as the US EPA and state agencies.   Where possible, many companies moved their manufacturing to other countries where investment in pollution reduction equipment is not required.  The US lost those jobs, likely forever.  

The above shows three reasons for fewer US workers: high wages, automation, and environmental regulations.    To create jobs lost by the above, policies must either change, or some form of job creation must be found that is not subject to those policies.  

However, there are also reasons why Baby Boomers live longer than previous generations and live to receive Social Security benefits.   The trend in longevity has increased for many years.  One reason for longer lives is the reduction in tobacco smoking, which smoking is known to cause deadly cancers and other illnesses that lead to early death.    Better nutrition and exercise also contribute.   Improved medical science also contributes to longer life, especially the ability to detect and treat or cure some forms of cancer.   

Also, Baby Boomers enjoy a safer society in many ways.   Automobiles with seatbelts and airbags, and the very design of cars that makes them safer are two such ways.   The interstate highway system, with its separation of traffic, also makes driving much safer.  Before the interstates existed, city-to-city travel was via two-lane highways in many areas.  Passing a slow vehicle required pulling into the on-coming traffic, rapidly increasing the car's speed, then pulling back into the proper lane.  Many accidents and deaths resulted.   Finally, the last example is probably controversial at this time in the nation's history with gun violence and gunshot deaths in the news almost daily.  However, the FBI's national murder rate statistics show 5.02 murders per 100,000 population in 1960, compared to 4.39 per 100,000 in 2014.  We live in a slightly safer world.  


The best way to get back the money one paid into the Social Security system is simply to live past the age of 80.  Should enough people actually accomplish that, by whatever lifestyle modifications they adopt, government will make funds available to meet the obligations.   Baby Boomers, in particular, have voted and will likely continue to vote on such issues until there are simply too few left to matter.   That "won't matter any more" date is likely only 20 to 25 years away, given the above statistics on survival rates and age.    After that time, the year 2035 or 2040, Baby Boomers' demise will have other far-reaching impacts on the US, but that is a topic for another time. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved.  

Epic Snowstorm - Blizzard in Mid-Atlantic 2016

Subtitle: Just Another Storm - Or Indicator of Cooling?

Update 1 - (Winter storm frequency on East Coast, with graph from NWS - end update 1)

A few years ago, I wrote an article based on a speech I made to Southern California chemical engineers (see link), on the topic of global warming versus global cooling.  In that speech, I described what serious winter storms can do, and how difficult it is in the US to cope with them.  (note, that article is one of the top two most-read articles on SLB).   

Today, we see a massive blizzard with heavy snowfall that impacts almost 88 million Americans (the figure varies, depending on which report one reads).  Snowfall totals from the National Weather Service are shown below - and note, this is from about half-way through the snow event.  (these are in inches, so metric-based or SI based readers can convert as appropriate.)   (see link to a recent article from CNN)

The most snow, thus far, is 28 inches in West Virginia.  


TERRA ALTA 1 N                       28.0                    
PHILIPPI                             24.0                    
MIDDLEWAY 1 NNE                      22.0                    
ROWLESBURG                           22.0                    
OMPS                                 21.5                    
ROCK CAVE 3 ENE                      20.1                    
MCGEE 3 WNW                          20.0                    
ROMNEY                               20.0                    
THOMAS                               17.0                    
WESTON                               16.5                    
PETERSBURG                           16.0                    
PRINCETON                            15.0                    
ALBRIGHT                             14.0                    
BLUEWELL                             14.0                    
GLENVILLE                            14.0                    
ROWLESBURG 9 ESE                     14.0                    
COLFAX                               13.5                    
CHEAT LAKE 4 ESE                     13.0                    
DEER RUN 2 WSW                       13.0                    
MASONTOWN                            13.0                    
RENICK                               13.0 
OAKLAND                              24.0                    
RIDGELEY 1 NW                        23.0                    
GAITHERSBURG 1 ENE                   21.5                    
WESTERNPORT                          21.5                    
MONTGOMERY VILLAGE 1 SE              20.5                    
GERMANTOWN                           20.0                    
MCHENRY 2 NNE                        20.0                    
NEW MARKET                           18.0                    
NORBECK 1 ESE                        17.6                    
FREDERICK                            17.5                    
OLNEY                                16.0                    
COLLEGE PARK 1 SW                    14.0                    
BWI AIRPORT                          12.4                    
BALTIMORE 2 SSE                       9.9                    
POTOMAC 1 ENE                         9.5                    
CHAMPION 4 SE                        23.0                    
MARKLESBURG                          23.0                    
DOVER                                22.0                    
BEDFORD                              20.5                    
DUNCANNON                            20.0                    
FARMINGTON                           19.5                    
FLATWOODS                            19.0                    
CHAMPION                             18.0                    
FISHERTOWN                           18.0                    
ROXBURY                              18.0                    
YORK                                 18.0                    
BLUEMONT                             20.0                    
CENTREVILLE 1 SE                     20.0                    
CHANTILLY  2 NNE                     19.0                    
MASSANUTTEN 1 SE                     19.0                    
PHILOMONT 2 W                        18.8                    
BROKEN HILL 2 WSW                    18.0                    
INDEPENDENCE                         18.0                    
OAKTON                               17.5                    
STEPHENS CITY 2 E                    17.3                    
LEESBURG 1 ESE                       17.0                    
VIENNA                               17.0                    
DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT         15.2                    
ALEXANDRIA 1 E                       14.8                    
REAGAN NATIONAL 1 WSW                14.0                    
ROANOKE                              11.5                    
LAWSON                               19.4                    
ARGYLE                               19.0                    
LIBERTY                              19.0                    
BEATTYVILLE 3 W                      18.2                    
ULYSSES                              18.0                    
GRADYVILLE 2 NW                      17.0                    
SALYERSVILLE 6W                      16.5                    
JACKSON 4 NE                         16.2                    
NEW MARKET 3 SSE                     16.0                    
LANCER                               15.5                    
BOWLING GREEN                        11.0 

OLD FORT 5 S                         16.0                    
FAIRVIEW                             12.0                    
LINVILLE                             12.0                    
SUGAR GROVE                          12.0                    
CELO                                 11.0                    
CRUMPLER                             11.0                    
CRUSO 5 ENE                          11.0                    
MARSHALL                             10.0                    
SCALY                                10.0                    
BLOWING ROCK 4 W                      9.0                    
WAYNESVILLE 3 NNW                     9.0                    
BOONE                                 8.3                    
ASHEVILLE 2 W                         8.0                    
ETOWAH 1.9 NW                         8.0                    
VALLE CRUCIS 1 SSE                    8.0  

HARVEST 5 SSE                         3.5                    
CROSSVILLE 1 NNE                      2.5                    
HUNTSVILLE 1 NNE                      2.0                    
MADISON                               1.4                    

THE WHITE HOUSE                      13.0                    
WASHINGTON 1 ENE                      7.0                    
CHEVY CHASE VILLAGE 1 S               4.8                    
NATIONAL ZOO 1 WSW                    4.1                    
THE MALL                              3.5                    

NEWARK 3.9 SSW                       12.0                    
PORT PENN                            11.1                    
NEW CASTLE COUNTY AIRPORT             9.7                    
FELTON 3.6 NE                         9.5                    
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE                  9.0                    
NEW CASTLE                            8.3                    
WOODSIDE                              7.5                    
LAUREL                                7.4                    
GLASGOW                               7.1                    
HARRINGTON 2.1 ENE                    7.0                    

DILLARD 3.5 NE                        7.5                    
MACEDONIA                             6.0                    
CLAYTON 8.5 W                         4.9                    
RABUN GAP 1.1 WNW                     3.0                    
CLEVELAND                             2.0                    
HELEN 3.7 ENE                         2.0                    
WALESKA 5 ENE                         1.0                    

HOWELL TWP                           14.0                    
WILDWOOD CREST                       12.0                    
BRICK TWP                            11.0                    
MOUNT HOLLY WFO                      11.0                    
NEPTUNE TWP                          10.0                    
TRENTON                              10.0                    
MORRISTOWN                            9.5                    
DENNISVILLE                           9.2                    
LINDENWOLD                            9.2                    
ATLANTIC CITY INTL AIRP               9.0                    

...NEW YORK...
OSCEOLA 1 E                          15.0                    
IRONDEQUOIT 1 ESE                     9.5                    
HOLLIS HILLS                          9.0                    
NORTH GREECE                          9.0                    
IRONDEQUOIT                           8.5                    
FORESTVILLE 2 SW                      7.5                    
NYC/LA GUARDIA                        7.2                    
NYC/JFK AIRPORT                       7.1                    
ISLIP                                 7.0                    
CENTRAL PARK                          6.0                    

IRONTON                               9.5                    
WOODSFIELD 1 NE                       9.0                    
CLARINGTON                            7.5                    
ATHENS                                7.0                    
STOCKPORT                             7.0                    
CALDWELL 1 SSE                        6.5                    
SCIOTOVILLE                           6.0                    
WINTERSVILLE 1 NE                     2.5                    
CADIZ 2 WSW                           2.0                    
NEW PHILADELPHIA 2 W                  1.5                                     

CHESNEE                               7.0                    
LANDRUM                               6.0                    
TRAVELERS REST 8.9 N                  5.5                    
CHESNEE 3.9 SW                        3.5                    
GREER 5 NW                            3.0                    
TAYLORS 6.1 NNW                       2.8                    
LYMAN 5.3 WNW                         2.5                    

LAFAYETTE W                          13.5                    
CROSS PLAINS                         11.0                    
JAMESTOWN                            11.0                    
WHITE HOUSE 7 ESE                    10.0                    
GREENBRIER 1.4 N                      9.5                    
SAMBURG                               9.0                    
DICKSON 6 NW                          8.5                    
DRESDEN                               8.5                    
MOUNTAIN CITY                         8.0                    
NASHVILLE 4 SW                        7.1                    
CLARKSVILLE 3 NNW                     7.0                    
LIVINGSTON 10 SE                      6.5                    
GOODLETTSVILLE                        6.0                    

It should be noted that several states have shut down all but essential services, power is out in many areas, many deaths have occurred, and residents are urged to stay home, "hunker down," and be prepare for several days of being self-sufficient.   Snow of two feet in the level areas will make drifts via wind into several feet high.   So, what does a guy in Southern California know about snow?  Only what I observed from living in lake-effect snow in Ohio for a few years during the late 1970s and early 1980s.  We routinely had snow of 24 inches or more.   Drifts were six to ten feet.   

There is a great disagreement between what the US, and many perhaps most countries, state officially about global warming, and my views expressed here on SLB about the coming global cooling.   (see link to "Warmists Are Wrong - Cooling Is Coming," from  May, 2012)

Here is an excerpt from the Warmists Are Wrong speech:

"Clothing:  we will need a lot more warm clothing.  This means synthetic fibers. 

Shelter:  almost all of what has been built in the last 70 years or so was during the warm climate. Much of it is not insulated to handle the type of cold that is coming.  I foresee a booming insulation business.  The flat roofs on buildings, not necessarily in California but in the rest of the world and in the northern part of the United States, may not be adequate.  We may need to have some different type of roofs installed.  The roofs must shed snow.

Medical supplies and health services: I believe we will be overwhelmed. Look at the relative death rates from hunger and cold, comparing heat to cold periods.  More people get sick and more people die in the cold winters.

Transportation and industrial output:  this will be huge.  We do not move barges over frozen rivers.  We know this.  When a river is frozen for many months out of the year, how can you get your materials moved?  What about trains or heavy ground transportation; will they work? Probably not. The train is going to cross the Rockies’ grades in the snow and ice?   Likely not.

Industrial output: how does one move materials around?  How do we get raw materials into the factories and the products out?  If we have seen big trucks trying to go up even a small incline during an ice storm, well, they don't.  We can not get trucks to go up or down the Grapevine incline here just north of Los Angeles when snow falls.  Multiply this 1000 times across the northern tier of the United States.

Communications and infrastructure: we know what happens when ice storms or big snowstorms occur.   The system fails.  Why does it fail?  It is due to ice on the lines or tree limbs falling on the lines.  Can you imagine this on the scale something like the Little Ice Age?  We’re going to need serious reconsideration of infrastructure.

Water supply: what does one do for water when everything around you is frozen? Well, you melt the ice.  But, what do you do for heat?  What if you need that heat just to keep the house warm?

Here's another one, population migration: it is entirely possible that some of the northern cities, talking about New York, Chicago, those type of places, where people give up and become what we call permanent snowbirds. They are moving south.  The implications there are huge. It is okay if one hundred thousand people migrate every winter, but what if we have multiple millions on a permanent basis?  We are not equipped to handle this.

Waste disposal: what will we be doing in the wintertime month after month after month when trucks cannot collect the garbage?  Where do we take it?   I don't really know. As engineers, I hope we can help solve these problems.  It probably will require many disciplines and cooperation between disciplines. " 

It appears that almost all of the issues mentioned in that speech are true during this blizzard, perhaps the populations migrating are not happening, yet.  

And one of the photos from that article, showing a cheerful man shoveling snow at a house.

These blizzards and severe snow storms are events to carefully note, and record their frequency, intensity, and location.   It should be noted that NOAA, knowing that this is an El Niño year, predicted a wetter and colder winter for the southern tier of the US, but a warmer and drier winter for the East Coast and northern states.   

This blizzard is impacting the northeast, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, as well as the other states shown above.   It remains to be seen how far, and how extensive, the snow and severe weather will be from this January 2016 blizzard.    It is about halfway done, as of this writing (noon central time 1/23/2016).

When blizzards such as this occur more often, and are longer-lasting, perhaps the False-Alarmists will finally admit that cooling is occurring.  

UPDATE 1 - 1-23-2016:  A list of major winter storms - East Coast - turned up quite an 
interesting result.   This is from NWS, for the Albany, NY location.  
Frequency by Year, and Month (January =13, February =14, March =15, etc)
The graph above of winter storm frequency shows more storms occurring after 1960, and 
the spread of the storms is greater.  Some severe storms are occurring as early as October 
(10 on the vertical axis), and as late as April (16 on the vertical axis).    A cooling world 
would  have more frequent winter storms, and they would occur during more months and 
not merely during December, January and February.   However, it seems a bit odd that zero winter storms happened from 1915 through 1950.   This will bear more investigation.  -- end update 1.

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved.   

NOAA Claims 2015 Hottest On Record - Wrong

Subtitle: US Pristine Areas Show No Warming Trend

This being mid-January, it is the time when summaries of last year are announced.  NOAA, via the NCDC (National Climate Data Center) announced this week that 2015 was the warmest year ever recorded when both land and ocean records are considered.  Well, that may be true, given the false and misleading data that is in their database, and all the adjustments to that data.   This post shows some of why the NCDC conclusion is not valid.   In short, the land temperature data for the US from pristine areas, the USCRN data, shows a cooling trend since 2004 and 2015 is far from the warmest in that data.   What NCDC includes, wrongly, is data from known warming locations such as cities and other sites where artificial warming occurs.   In addition, 2015 was the warming phase of an El Niño, so ocean temperatures are temporarily a bit warmer than usual.  

As written before on SLB, (see link  to "Cities and UHI Warming Corrupt Temperature Databases,") the cities are warming, have warmed, and will continue to warm no matter what provides the electricity, heating energy, and transportation energy to them.  The simple facts of a great amount of heat being dissipated in a relatively small area creates a heat bubble.   More population in cities over time creates an even greater heat bubble.   It is a simple, but stark fact that even if all electricity on the planet were from hydroelectric dams, a source that creates zero carbon dioxide, CO2, and every vehicle was electric, plus all energy used in the cities was electricity, the warming bubble would still exist.  For False-Alarmists to conclude that CO2 in the atmosphere must be reduce to prevent catastrophic global warming is simply false.  Even if CO2 production ceased 200 years ago, the temperatures as measured by NCDC would still show a warming trend.  

From the NCDC website (see link),

"The January–December map of temperature anomalies shows that warmer-than-average temperatures occurred across the vast majority of the globe during 2015, combining to bring overall record warmth for 2015, at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average. This easily surpasses the previous record set just last year by 0.16°C (0.29°F). The global temperatures were strongly influenced by the strong El Niño conditions that developed during the year. The 2015 temperature also marks the largest margin by which an annual temperature record has been broken. Prior to this year, the largest margin occurred in 1998, when the annual temperature surpassed the record set in 1997 by 0.12°C (0.22°F). Incidentally, 1997 and 1998 were the last years in which a similarly strong El Niño was occurring. The annual temperature anomalies for 1997 and 1998 were 0.51°C (0.92°F) and 0.63°C (1.13°F), respectively, above the 20th century average, both much lower than the 2015 temperature."

2015    0.90 deg C above average
2014    0.74
1998    0.63
1997    0.51

Here is the map that NCDC refers to in the first sentence.  This shows land and ocean by different colors, with cooler in blue and warmer in red.  
from NCDC website 23 January 2016
It is notable that NCDC did not mention, that I could locate, the cooling (blue areas) in the eastern Canada, southern Greenland, and north Atlantic areas.   It is a feature of good science to discuss the contrary data that is opposite to one's conclusions.   A valid reason should be put forth for why the contrary data exists.  Only a few hundred miles apart, eastern Canada is cooling, while the remainder of Canada was hotter than normal.  Also, the map above shows the western Atlantic Ocean hotter than normal, while the north Atlantic is much colder.   Yet, we know the Gulf Stream carries warm water north and a bit east across those same areas.    Similarly, the region around Japan is colder, yet surrounding areas are warmer.   No mention of these differences.  

While this will be covered in more detail in a future post at SLB, the USCRN data for 2015 from pristine sites shows no warming trend for the contiguous states for the relatively short period (11 years) of the USCRN data. 


The fact is, and has been for a long time, that the official keepers of the temperature records reach their conclusions of alarming, rising temperature trends by over-inclusion of data that has no business being included in such temperature databases.   To put it in the simple vernacular, "Cities gonna warm."   Also, fact-finding and analysis of temperature-measurement sites in the US show that most of the sites also have artificial heating and are not measuring what they are intended to measure.   The was recognized a bit more than a decade ago and resulted in the creation of measuring instruments in pristine areas, the USCRN sites that are far from human influences such as cities, power plants, and asphalt parking lots.   NCDC and NOAA's problem is that the USCRN data is only a decade long, perhaps a bit longer for the oldest sites.  The USCRN data is not global, being limited only to the USA.   SLB has a post on the first decade results from USCRN, see link.   The results for that decade, 2005-2014 (inclusive) show a pronounced cooling in the contiguous US, with a severe cooling trend for winters.   A short record, of only ten years, is subject to pronounced end-point effects.  We can expect that additional years may change the trend a bit until a longer period exists.   An update to that USCRN post is imminent, likely in early March 2016 when the data for the full winter 2016 is available. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved.   

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Los Angeles Gas Well Leaking - Drilling To Fix It

Subtitle:  Vilified Precision Directional Drilling To The Rescue

(Updated, see end of article. ) 

Approximately 12 weeks ago, a storage well for natural gas began to leak just on the outskirts of Los Angeles, California.   The odor is intense in the nearby communities and many residents have been moved, relocated.   Schools have been closed, and the affected students are being sent to nearby schools.   

There have been dozens of articles written on this, and official information exists on various websites such as the South Coast AQMD (see link).   The well is in some danger of blowing out and spewing a great quantity of odorized natural gas over the western portion of Los Angeles.  

The AQMD site states: 

"Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) operates a natural gas underground storage facility (Aliso Canyon Storage Facility) at 12801 Tampa Avenue in Northridge, CA 91326. Aliso Canyon Facility’s underground storage reservoir has the capacity to store over 80 billion cubic feet of natural gas.  SoCalGas operates about 115 injection/withdrawal wells at this location. SoCalGas injects natural gas into the underground reservoir at this facility when the demand for natural gas is low and withdraws it when the demand for natural gas is high.   

On October 23, 2015 SoCalGas discovered that a well used to inject and withdraw natural gas from the underground storage reservoir at their Aliso Canyon facility (known as Well SS-25) was leaking. Initially, it was expected that the gas leak would last no longer than several days or weeks, at the most.  However, despite several attempts by SoCalGas to stop the leak, natural gas is continuing to leak from the underground reservoir through Well SS-25 and its surroundings."   (note: Sempra Energy is the parent company of Southern California Gas Company.)

The facts, to the best of my knowledge, are that the well was drilled in the 1960s as an oil well.  Once the oil ran out, and many years later, the well was one of dozens of similar wells that were converted to accept pressurized, odorized natural gas as a means of storing the gas during low-demand periods.  When the demand for gas increases, the gas company withdraws the gas from the storage wells and sends the gas via pipelines to customers.   Such gas storage and withdrawal facilities exist across the US.   This one at Aliso Canyon is the largest in Southern California.   

When this well began to leak, SoCalGas attempted several times to stop the leak by the usual and customary methods, primarily pumping a thick fluid known as "mud" into the well.   However, this well did not respond and the leak increased.   The quantity of gas and its odorizing compound created irritation and discomfort to the residents in the nearby community of Porter Ranch.   

The situation attracted the attention of several state agencies and the Governor of California, who declared via proclamation "that a state of emergency exists in Los Angeles County due to this natural gas leak."  see link  

Since efforts to plug the well via mud injection failed, SoCalGas is drilling two relief wells to meet the leaking well at a prescribed depth.   The relief wells take time to drill and reach the target.  If successful, the relief wells will reduce the pressure in the leaking well and allow the leak to be plugged.   see link to Department of Conservation's Fact Sheet on the well. 

What is important to note is that the relief wells being drilled are using precision directional drilling (PDD), the same technique that is used all over the country and world-wide to economically drill and produce oil and natural gas from formations, including shale gas.    PDD is used along with hydraulic fracturing to produce much more oil and gas than was possible years ago.    It is commonly stated by the media that fracking is a new technology that causes all sorts of issues, including earthquakes and contaminated water.   Both accusations are false.   

The new technology, in fact, is not fracturing.   The new technology is the gradual improvement in directional drilling, until today it can be called precision directional drilling.   One superb example of PDD is the ExxonMobil oil field offshore of Russia's Sakhalin Island.  That oil field is several miles offshore, and thousands of feet below sea level.   The drilling rig is on the island near the mainland.   Drilling more than 6 miles horizontally, and 8,500 feet down, the PDD reached the oil formation that is only 490 feet thick.   As one executive described it, this is similar to standing at one end of a basketball gymnasium, then pushing a long pipe cleaner through clay and hitting a golf ball at the far end of the gymnasium.    In short, PDD works.   

At Aliso Canyon, the PDD must reach a depth of approximately something greater than 500 feet, but it must intersect with the existing well that is only a few inches across at that depth.   If the leaking well is 4 inches diameter at that depth, or perhaps 6 inches, the precision of the PDD must be very, very good.   The well is approximately the diameter of a softball, but the distance may be as much as one and one-half miles.    

It is for this reason that the gas company has not offered any guarantees that the relief wells will work.  However, there are good reasons to think that they will, eventually, reach the distressed well.   The current schedule is for the wells to intersect in mid to late-February and for the leak to be stopped in early to mid-March.  

It is ironic that the very same technology that many complain about, and condemn as causing so much trouble, is what will be used to rescue an old and leaky well that is approximately 50 years old.    It is also ironic that PDD is what has allowed so much natural gas to be drilled and produced, and created a surplus of supply so the price of natural gas has declined to slightly less than one-third the peak price of a few years ago ($14 then, and $4 now, approximately).   The low natural gas price leads to lower electricity prices, since much of California's electricity is produced by clean-burning natural gas.   In addition, the US no longer imports LNG, instead, LNG is now produced for export to other countries.   PDD is a modern miracle of applied technology.  

As the situation at Aliso Canyon develops, there will likely be updates to this post.  

Update 1 - 1/23/2016:  SoCalGas states that they expect the well to be shut in by the end of February.    Well, we shall see.   Drilling such relief wells does not always go as planned.  -- end update 1. 

Update 2 - 2/13/2016:  SoCalGas states they have temporarily shut in the well, with the gas flow stopped.   The relief well was successful, hitting the leaking well with precision directional drilling.   Next, the leaking well will be permanently capped by injection of a special concrete mixture that will harden and seal the well.   However, the situation is not over, not by any means. Lawsuits will drag out for years.  Regulators are discussing tighter rules.  State agencies are evaluating the Aliso Canyon storage facility for suitability for long-term use, and the implications that has for energy security (electricity shortages and blackouts).    --   

see link to "Implications of Closing Aliso Canyon"
see link to "Natural Methane Seeps are Very Common" 
see link to "California: As Gas Leaks, Pressure for Regulation Builds"----end update 2.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved

Dr Robert Carter - Thoughts on His Passing

Today is a sad day for me, and many in the science community, as we learned of the death of one of climate science's great men, Dr. Robert M. Carter of Australia, age 74.   
Bob Carter, climate scientist

Bob, as he was known, was what many refer to as a climate warming skeptic.  He followed the data, and the scientific method, and came to conclusions that are at odds with the Warmists, what I refer to now as the False-Alarmists.   That made him unpopular with the university that employed him, and he was discharged.   That, alone, says volumes about the state of climate science in the world.  

I met Bob here in Los Angeles a few years ago, at a dinner where he spoke a short bit.  I sat next to him at the dinner and had a great time meeting him and discussing all sorts of things.   I also had the privilege of hearing him speak as a panelist at the Heartland Climate Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, in summer of 2014.  

There are several blog-based tributes, and internet page tributes to Bob and his memory.  Among the comments on those, a distinguished scientist, Dr. Roy Spencer, lamented that soon enough, skeptics like Bob and himself would be gone as nature takes us all in the end.   He went on to say that there are no younger scientists stepping up to carry on the skeptic side, and he named specifically his own research using the satellite data for atmospheric temperatures.   His words: ". . . we have no one to take over production of the UAH satellite dataset when John Christy and I are gone."  (note: UAH refers to University of Alabama at Huntsville)

With all due respect to Dr. Roy Spencer, I want to disagree.   I suspect that younger scientists will find it a bit easier as the years go by, and the predicted catastrophic warming does not occur.  At that point, skeptic scientists would, and should, be eager to perform the research that attempts to explain what went so badly wrong with the False-Alarmists data and methods.   As an example, the data from the USCRN, the Climate Research network, that has only pristine sites for temperature measurement, shows a pronounced cooling in the US over the past decade.  More ominously, the winters show a much faster cooling trend compared to the overall annual data.  Even more ominously, the northern tier of the US shows the fastest cooling trend of all.   see link for details. 

The second reason I have for disagreement with Dr. Spencer is from my private discussions with scientists who are on the verge of retirement.  Several that I have spoken to assure me that the only reason they presently remain silent is they want to keep their jobs.  But, once retirement is upon them, they are free to speak well, freely.   There will be some, perhaps many in that category.   It would be improper for me to name any names of those who are waiting until their retirement day.   However, given the very large Baby Boomer generation that is about to retire, there will be a considerable number of such people.  

RIP, Bob.   You will be missed.   We will carry on in the tradition of obtaining valid data, following that data after sound analysis, and delivering supportable conclusions.   

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2016 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved