Corned grief: biofuels may increase CO2

From the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t department”.

More Maize Ethanol May Boost Greenhouse Gas Emissions

From the American Institute of Biological Sciences

Read the full article (PDF)

In the March 2010 issue of BioScience, researchers present a sophisticated new analysis of the effects of boosting use of maize-derived ethanol on greenhouse gas emissions. The study, conducted by Thomas W. Hertel of Purdue University and five co-authors, focuses on how mandated increases in production of the biofuel in the United States will trigger land-use changes domestically and elsewhere. In response to the increased demand for maize, farmers convert additional land to crops, and this conversion can boost carbon dioxide emissions.

The analysis combines ecological data with a global economic commodity and trade model to project the effects of US maize ethanol production on carbon dioxide emissions resulting from land-use changes in 18 regions across the globe. The researchers’ main conclusion is stark: These indirect, market-mediated effects on greenhouse gas emissions “are enough to cancel out the benefits the corn ethanol has on global warming.”

The indirect effects of increasing production of maize ethanol were first addressed in 2008 by Timothy Searchinger and his coauthors, who presented a simpler calculation in Science. Searchinger concluded that burning maize ethanol led to greenhouse gas emissions twice as large as if gasoline had been burned instead. The question assumed global importance because the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act mandates a steep increase in US production of biofuels over the next dozen years, and certifications about life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are needed for some of this increase. In addition, the California Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard requires including estimates of the effects of indirect land-use change on greenhouse gas emissions. The board’s approach is based on the work reported in BioScience.

Hertel and colleagues’ analysis incorporates some effects that could lessen the impact of land-use conversion, but their bottom line, though only one-quarter as large as the earlier estimate of Searchinger and his coauthors, still indicates that the maize ethanol now being produced in the United States will not significantly reduce total greenhouse gas emissions, compared with burning gasoline. The authors acknowledge that some game-changing technical or economic development could render their estimates moot, but sensitivity analyses undertaken in their study suggest that the findings are quite robust.

Effects of US Maize Ethanol on Global Land Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Estimating Market-mediated Responses

Thomas W. Hertel, Alla A. Golub, Andrew D. Jones, Michael O’Hare, Richard J. Plevin, and Daniel M. Kammen

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MattN

Of course. It’s carbon based. What do you get when you burn a carbon based fuel?
How did anyone ever get the idea there would be less CO2?

Justa Joe

Can someone present a chemical equation and the the stoichiometry to demonstrate how the combustion of so called bio-fuels is supposed to produce any less CO2 than gasoline?
Not that buy into the CO2 = bad hoopla

RayG

Does the robustness of the last sentence of the summary “…but sensitivity analyses undertaken in their study suggest that the findings are quite robust.” indicate that we should take this analysis with 5 grains of NaCl? 😉

kim

I wonder where this whole biofuel mess would be if Iowa weren’t the first Presidential primary.
==================

kwik

“..their study suggest that the findings are quite robust.”
Very good!

Lance

Not to mention the fact that food prices the world over will exlode, and food shortages will kill millions…..huh, maybe not such a bad idea after all, those bio-fuels. It will actually help the greenies reduce the human population…two flies in one stroke.

Van Grungy

The IPCC is mandated to find excuses for retarding, or even better, culling human population growth.
They will stop at nothing to achieve this objective. Real scientific methods and reports be damned.

kim

Is the distinction between fossil CO2 and recently captured CO2 made? That’s an important point.
==========

Jack

It really is the choice of liberals: don’t go into the country, kill a
bunch of people, and set it right.
Lets starve them to death. But only the poor ones.

RockyRoad

So you’re telling me I can use the energy of the sun to get me down the highway but that same energy is in no way responsible for warming the globe? Hmmmm…. *does not compute*

Doug

Nothing said about the CO2 byproduct released from the fermentation process?

Steve

I have always maintained, from the absolute beginning of this mess, that burning our food is a bad idea.
A much better implementation of biofuels as an alternative source would be through the use of MEthanol, not ethanol. With alcohol-based methanol as a fuel, practically any sort of biomass can be used– particularly the ones we don’t eat. Grass, cat-tails, the stuff from corn that we DON’T use, etc. Higher yield, and we don’t mess with our food supply. And it’s easy to convert engines for this purpose as well.
But that would make too much sense, and would only line the pockets of average americans, instead of lobbyists and the thieves in power.
I look at our energy policy in the country and weep. We will be our own un-doing.

John from MN

Yellow Dent Corn (maize as you use in the article) is grown for animal feed. Ethanol can be made out the corn using the starch portion, and you still have a high protein highly nutritious feed left in the form of Distiller grain or DDG for short. With ethanol you get your cake and eat it too. I sure wish detractors would get the facts straight.
On my farm I can raise about 180 bushel per Acre of corn (5 tons) I will only use about 6 gals of Diesel fuel to produce that and that acre of corn will produce 500 (Five Hundred) gallons of ethanol and 3,000 lbs of High Protein DDG’s.
Besides the 6 gallons of fuel used there is a small amount of fuel used in mining the fertilizer and some Natural Gas used to produce the Nitrogen fertilizer. And some Natural Gas used in to distill the Ethanol from the starch and dry the Distillers Grain. But all in all the ethanol industry and my farm are very efficient, use much less energy and produce both liquid car fuel and high protein feed, that comes from mostly Solar Energy collected by the corn and some Natural Gas in the production of the corn and the ethanol. But nowhere near the 500 gallons of ethanol that will be produced per acre. Along with a ton and half (3,000 lbs) of High Protein feed. And feed is what my farm produced before ethanol came into favor.
All in All Ethanol gets knocked by the un-informed and groups with a political or financial angle to dis-credit the highly efficient Agricultural Farming and Ethanol production in the Mid-Western USA…….Sincerely John T.

vigilantfish

I love the way these scientists address the possible shortcomings of biofuel production not in terms of rising food prices and the starvation and death of the world’s poorest, but rather because the CO2 balance is not right. Glad to know we in the first world have our priorities straight! sarc/

Henry chance

It takes more btu’s to raise grain, brew it and distill it to produce alcohol than the btus put off by the ethanol.
The heat is from natural gas.
The cycle is inneficient. I know where you can buy several new ethanol plants that are rusting in bankruptcy.

Steve

This is way-off topic (more or less), but can anyone here recommend a good book outlining the principles of solar energy and panels, and the subsequent applications and methods?
I’m not afraid of technical writing, either. Seen there are many for sale and there are many websites, but just wondering where to start.

Philip T. Downman

Making big efforts to solve a fictive problem is likely to end up in disaster.

Anthony,
While the whole indirect land use issue is a concern, the problem with these papers is the exact same as the problem with global warming: they rely on models that are not easily reconciled with actual data. These models are assuming that we understand perfectly the economics of worldwide agricultural supply and demand. Needless to say, that’s absurd. And, so far, the indirect land use change (ILUC) models have failed to adequately express reality.
For example, this paper looks at a step change from 2001 levels of ethanol production to estimated 2015 levels (1.7 billion gallons to 15 billion gallons). From their model, they assume a 17% decrease in export production from corn grain and a 12% decrease in exports of soy. Makes sense, as we need a lot more corn to make all this ethanol.
However, we’re about 60% of the way there (current US ethanol production is ~9-10 billion gallons). So some of these effects should start to be seen. And what have we seen instead?
Our corn and soy exports are HIGHER than they were in 2001.
The model does not fit the current reality. If this was global warming related, you would rightly be criticizing this study for that. Of course, this isn’t meant to be incendiary or critical of you or this site. I’m assuming you’re not as well versed at the intricacies of biofuel research as you are of global warming. But honest scientific debate requires all information, so here’s a little extra.
(Full disclosure: as you might expect, I’m a researcher in the world of biofuels, although not necessarily corn-ethanol specific.)

bill-tb

There was a CARB study which showed bio-fuels produced 2.5 times as much CO2 as straight gasoline. Makes sense when you considered all the ‘mechanized farming steps’ involved. Then Gov Schwarzenegger forced it to be taken down and re-written to say just ‘more CO2’ than straight gasoline.
Proving that reducing CO2 isn’t the goal.
Shouldn’t we always ask that question when bio-fuels are talked about? And what about the consumer costs … shouldn’t that be the top line of the amazing bio-fuels arguments?
And isn’t all this weird when you find that according to the governments own EIA the USA has more fossil fuel reserves than any other nation on earth. Especially coal, which the NAZIs of WWII were able to turn into liquid transport fuel using 1920s technology. Still works today.

Allen63

Biofuels derived from nominal food crops have never made sense in any fashion (economic, environmental, social).
Maybe if a special plant species was modified or genetically engineered….
But, even then, there is, apparently, so much energy inefficiency in producing the biofuel that I would not leap at them as any real solution.
Just spend all the money on development of nuclear electric energy and electric (or hydrogen powered — from H2O) cars.
In the mean time, continue on with oil, natural gas, and coal (with pollution controls — not CO2 controls). It seems like the most cost effective path to take — given what we know.

jorgekafkazar

“…These indirect, market-mediated effects on greenhouse gas emissions “are enough to cancel out the benefits the corn ethanol has on global warming.”
The benefits of ethanol for global warming are zero. End of story.
Here’s the stoichiometry, for those who give a hoot:
C8H18 + 12.5 O2 –> 8 CO2 + 9 H2O
C2H5OH + 3 O2 –> 2 CO2 + 3 H2O
So each mole of octane produces 4 times as many moles of CO2 as ethanol. The ethanol doesn’t produce quite as much energy, though: Gasoline (roughly octane) has an HHV of 20.4 MBTU/pound; ethanol’s HHV is only 12.8 MBTU/pound.

Chris

Actually, this report shows better results than anticipated. The press release notes that the magnitude of CO2 emissions is only one-fourth of the previous estimate. Also, who ever said burning bio-fuel reduces total CO2 content in the atmosphere? Ethanol is added to gasoline as part of the RENEWABLE fuel standards. Finally, it is no surprise that ethanol from corn is no panacea. Even its supporters (outside of the farm lobby) readily admit that it is a bridge to more efficient biofuels of the future.
For those who don’t understand the difference in CO2 emissions from biofuels versus natural landscape, the conversion of wetlands or forests into cornfields is apparently not as efficient in capturing CO2 even when keeping the forests as is requires the use of more gasoline, i.e., [forest uptake of CO2 – use of gasoline instead of biofuel] > [cornfield uptake CO2 – energy used to raise corn and convert to ethanol].

Justa Joe (08:08:30):
In terms of energy density, ethanol is only minutely higher gram CO2/Joule fuel ratio than gasoline, and it’s essentially irrelevent. The difference is the source of CO2. With ethanol, the source is carbon from the atmosphere, so there is no net increase in CO2 emissions. With petroleum, the source is carbon locked underground, thus leading to a net increase in CO2 emissions.
That’s why bioethanol is seen as a renewable fuel. The problems with that assumption are two-fold. First, corn ethanol requires a great deal of processing, requiring a lot of natural gas in the process. Combined with all on-farm fossil fuel use (including the production of excess fertilizers, which doesn’t technically occur on the farm but needs to be included anyway), the CO2 savings from corn ethanol are slight (about 20-40% reduction compared to gasoline). Note that this doesn’t mean corn ethanol is useless: the big saving is in oil consumed (20 barrels of oil are saved for every barrel invested in ethanol).
In any case, the second issue is land use change. If we’re cutting down a forest to grow corn, that’s not good. If we’re taking degraded land that’s doing nothing and growing corn, that’s fine. The question is, what are we doing? That’s what the economic models like this one are attempting to find out. Unfortunately, they’re very complicated models on a topic that isn’t perfectly understood. As we all know from the climate change debate, these models are ripe for abuse.

Snake Oil Baron

Maize-derived ethanol? Really? People outside the corn and liquor industries have little interest in deriving ethanol from corn, especially ethanol fuel proponents. There are a lot of interesting technologies being developed to reduce the cost and energy usage of producing ethanol but the benefits of this will be outside of the fuel industry.
Butanol has a far better future than ethanol – except where ethanol is used as a specific chemical in industrial reactions and physical processes. Cultivating the best organisms to produce butanol continues and it won’t take much to alter some of the ethanol facilities to produce butanol. But then, the need for butanol assumes that all the oil reserves on the planet continue to be made inaccessible via environmental lobbying in the West and state-managed infrastructure collapse in the petro-states. While the latter is likely, the former depends on oil prices staying low enough that people can afford to let the greenies continue to have their way.
Not to mention sewerage, algae (which creates multiple revenue streams like animal feed, oil, biodiesel, and ethanol while reducing the glut of glycerol from biodiesel production – and yes the water issue is manageable), cellulose, new catalysts for synthesizing chemicals using whatever energy source you can make economical.
There are lots of options. Get rid of the government intervention and let the market do what it does best by finding the least expensive of these options.

Bruce

Its even worse than the article says. If you believe in the greenhouse gas theories, a much more ptent greenhouse gas is NO2. Biofuels produce more N2O than gasoline.
http://www.co2science.org/subject/n/summaries/nitrousoxide.php

Veronica

That all depends what you would have done with the land otherwise. If you left it as grassland and populated it with methane-belching cows, how does that compare?
Anyway, what worries me is that the more land you devote to growing fuel, the less you can devote to growing food. And we were hearing reports last year of the price of food crops, like rice, doubling and trebling in Africa and putting people into starvation. We should choose very carefully what we put into our fields.

Chris

Sorry, the relevent equation is probably this in terms of net CO2 uptake:
do nothing > grow corn for fuel
[forest uptake of CO2 – use of gasoline instead of biofuel] > [cornfield uptake CO2 – energy used to raise corn and convert to ethanol – use of biofuel instead of gasoline in terms of CO2 emissions].

Garry

The following is from a political site, but the article provides similar perspective about the kookiness of “biofeuls.” The author states right at the beginning that his data comes from National Geographic.
“U.S. law currently mandates nine billion gallons of ethanol blended into gasoline by 2010, equal to about 2.6% of US fuel consumption. Currently, 25% of the U.S. corn crop goes for ethanol, driving up food and fuel prices. The ethanol mandate rises to 36 billion gallons by 2022, which would consume more than 100% of the U.S. corn crop, if it were all made from corn. At 300 gallons per acre, corn yields 192,000 gallons per square mile. It takes 5,208 square miles to produce one billion gallons of corn ethanol. It would take 187,488 square miles of corn farms to meet the 2022 ethanol mandate of 36 billion gallons, an area about the size of the entire state of California, plus West Virginia.”
July 2, 2008
Ending Our Oil Addiction: Reality Check
by Raymond Kraft
http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.506,css.print/pub_detail.asp

Ian E

>>> Justa Joe (08:08:30) :
Can someone present a chemical equation and the the stoichiometry to demonstrate how the combustion of so called bio-fuels is supposed to produce any less CO2 than gasoline? <<<
It's not about the stoichiometry – the suggestion is that the plant takes the CO2 from the atmosphere and incorporates it in carbohydrates etc via photosynthesis. When the biodiesel combustion occurs, the CO2 that is released thus is merely returned to the atmosphere rather than being released from oil/gas/coal deposits (taken from the atmosphere many aeons ago). The trouble is of course that the land could be sequestering CO2 into food/trees/bushes etc plus it takes energy to produce the biodiesel plus, doubtless, other indirect effects on CO2 release/sequestration.

JC

This sort of study won’t make a blind bit of difference..
The Iowa farmer will look his politicians in the eye, tell them he’s done just what they wanted, geared up to be carbon neutral, produced a wonder fuel, reduced pollution and has God on his side.
He’ll explain its taken him 20 years to see the light, but by the grace of God, the new laws and the subsidies he now realizes the error of his ways.. and he’s going to go on being virtuous and produce ethanol until he drops.. or someone handsomely reimburses him for the years that he’s been jerked around by daft ideologies.
JC

Joe Crawford

I can’t say I’m surprised… first wind energy (exotic metals, distribution lines & backup generation re: the Spanish experience), and now corn ethanol. This is normally what happens when the engineers get involved and start throwing a large dose of reality into the mix. There is still some hope for solar technology, but it currently takes an awful lot of carbon to manufacture the plants, there is the storage problem, and, major breakthroughs in that field are few and far between (e.g., SERI threw an awful lot of money at many years ago, and finally gave up).

Sean Peake

Great headline!

Stacey

…..puzzling things in life
Dear Andrew
Zapping Mosquito’s
Your post on the 5 March I wrote ” ………Finally in order to remain on topic my advice to you, for what it is worth, is to follow that other great American and “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”
Geoffrey Lean In the UK Telegraph Saturday 15 March:-
Once, green groups were light on their feet – and scored hits. As in Muhammad Ali’s appropriately verdant boast, they “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee”, Now they are more often like his world championship opponent, the favoured, but lumbering Sonny Liston, who scarcely landed a punch.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthcomment/geoffrey-lean/7431092/Friends-of-the-Earth-finally-cotton-on-to-climate-change-data-row.html
So again to remain on topic “Amaizeing”

Rob uk

Doesn`t ploughing release CO2, more Maize Ethanol needs more land.

kim (08:33:56) :
Is the distinction between fossil CO2 and recently captured CO2 made? That’s an important point.
Ummmmmm — the difference between released CO2 and released CO2 is…?

Aviator

I followed the dogma and used biofuel in my furnace for one year; the result was an increase of 18% in oil consumption. I reverted to regular fuel even though our stupid provincial government put a carbon tax on it and I saved money. The soy-based fuel has about 85% of the BTUs of the fossil fuels it would seem from my “experiment” and naturally will emit more of the “evil” CO2 when burned to achieve the same goal.

TerrySkinner

Take away the discrediting of the whole AGW business and this sort of report is doubtless the sort of drip, drip of tabloid science which would have become the norm over the next few years. It is so like the past 20/30 years of cancer reporting.
In my family we decided long ago that everything causes cancer so when some new report comes out telling us to stop eating, stop drinking and above all stop breathing or we will get cancer, we have a laugh and ignore it.
Now we have the carbon scare industry with its buzz words and phrases: emissions, carbon footprint, greenhouse gas, saving the planet, more CO2. More please, more, much more. Every time a report like this comes out even more people switch off.
The fact is once people get the idea that whatever they do they are doomed then they are in exactly the same camp as those who think nothing they do means they are doomed. It all becomes water off a duck’s back. And so it should.
What about all those cremations then? Don’t they just add to the CO2 in the air? Shouldn’t we immediately commission a fleet (never mind the expense) to drop all dead bodies into the Marianas Trench, suitably weighed down of course. Just
on the precautionary principle you know.

JT

I think that burning the corn (ethanol) is carbon neutral. Its the vast amount of processing (farming, transporting, fermintation, water use, delivery) that is responsible for the extra CO2.
JT

Richard Sharpe

Seems like another case of a business group or entity using ecological concerns to obtain special treatment or change the playing field (patents expiring, no problem, just raise a bunch of ecological concerns about those patented products).

John Galt

The ethanol mandates and ethanol subsidies were passed under the Bush administration and enjoyed broad bipartisan support. Politicians got the chance to boost their “green cred” while pandering to the Midwestern farm vote. Don’t forget that Iowa is a big corn state and also hosts the caucuses which are the first official step in the process of being elected president.
What does this tell us about the fallacy of the USA setting an energy policy? When the government dictates winners and losers, the wrong answer is often chosen. Further, the official policy makes it very difficult for better technologies getting implemented.

harrywr2

kim (08:33:56) :
“Is the distinction between fossil CO2 and recently captured CO2 made?”
CO2 emissions from Corn get a free ride because whatever CO2 emissions from burning this years corn crop end up being captured in next years crop.
I would note this is a global study. US usage of ethanol as a fuel has an impact on global grain markets. I suspect the real problem comes in when someone who was enjoying cheap imported US corn goes out and cuts down a forest because the cheap US corn is no longer available.

ShrNfr

1 BTU in for 0.8 BTUs out never impressed me as being a good way to generate energy.

Rod E.

To farmer John T. from MN:
Leaving aside the argument that ethanol adversely affects the CO2 situation, what would happen to ethanol production if the government subsidy were to be dropped to zero dollars per gallon? If you’d still find it economic to continue producing corn for ethanol, then fine, the outputs exceed the inputs.
However, if you would instantly lose that market for your corn, then what you say about the productivity of your farm in regards to ethanol production is bogus and the profit margin is coming from me, the taxpayer, not from your efforts to manage the inputs so that you have a true economic marginal profit on a bushel of corn.
My bet is that your ethanol market would disappear along with the subsidy, but then with the political power of agriculture interests, I doubt we’ll know the answer any time soon. Maybe when the U.S. runs out of money to pay the subsidy, i.e., when they finally bleed the taxpayer dry?

CRS, Dr.P.H.

OK, finally a topic that I’m an expert in!
Corn ethanol is a losing proposition for a national energy policy. Ethanol itself is a lousy motor fuel by itself….it cannot be transported by pipeline unlike gasoline, so transport is only via train, truck etc. This generates considerable emissions.
It is true that the carbon in corn ethanol originates from the atmosphere, so at first glance, it appears to be sustainable. However, couple all of the fossil energy used for planting/harvesting/processing, plus the transportation, and it is a net energy hog.
Ethanol fermenters generate carbon dioxide which is often vented to the atmosphere, although it is also captured and used for beverage carbonation etc. This is a net zero, as the process releases atmospheric carbon that was fixed by the corn plant.
As far as food competition, the corn used for ethanol is not directly consumed by humans but used as animal feed. This is not so great a concern as land-use changes, erosion, and over-fertilization with runoff. Also, the protein fraction of the corn is captured as distillers dried grain, and sold for animal feed.
Alternative waste sugars are suitable for ethanol….I did this with a major cheese manufacturing concern in the 1980’s, where cheese whey permeate (a strong waste) was fermented into ethanol. This is an acceptable use of a pollutant and net energy producer. However, such waste sugars are not in sufficient abundant supply in our manufacturing sector to replace oil.
Most oil companies are looking into biologically produced butanol instead of ethanol, it is a superior fuel for motor vehicles. However, the conversion of cellulosic feedstocks such as switchgrass to any fermentable substrate is not easily done, and no breakthrough has yet occurred.
Ethanol is one small piece of an energy independence puzzle, but it isn’t the panacea that we were told it would be. Also, the subsidies (mostly to ADM) aren’t worth it. This is a program that needs to be re-evaluated and adjusted. Private industry is hard at work on the technical side, but eventually, I predict that ethanol will only play a limited role in displacing oil.

toyotawhizguy

Radio commentator Paul Harvey (now deceased) reported in September 2005 that a Cornell University scientist did a study to see how much it costs (in terms of input energy outlays and human labor) to manufacture one gallon of ethanol from corn. Harvey did not report on the human labor portion, but reported that the scientist found that 1.83 gallons of fossil fuel gasoline was consumed to manufacture 1.0 gallon of ethanol from corn. If this information is correct, it is impossible to realize any environmental benefits from Corn Ethanol.
Checking some online prices (March, 2010) for denatured alcohol (a mixture of 95% ethanol and 5% methanol) yielded pricing from $18 to as high as $40 per gallon (not including shipping). Comparing this to the national (USA) average price of $2.79 for a gallon of gasoline, the price disparity helps to document the high manufacturing costs for ethanol, giving credibility to the report.
Using corn ethanol as a gasoline additive in terms of use as a fuel with the goal of reducing emissions is nothing short of a red herring, even if the land use conversion consequences are completely ignored.

Rhoda R

“When the government dictates winners and losers, the wrong answer is often chosen.” The answer chosen ususally depends on the most influential lobby group.
Not only is ethenol not carbon neutral, but it also makes auto engines less efficient causeing more fuel to be burned to get the same effect as staight gasoline. Of course, ethenol was not supposed to be the answer to CO2 but rather a way to avoid tapping our petroeum reserves. And make friends ad relatives of politicians rich.

rbateman

Biofuels do not decrease C02. BioFuel crops eat it. It must be present in order for photosynthesis to occur. Burning biofuels does not increase C02, they only release what they consumed. C02 is a renewable resource for storing energy.
The energy came from the Sun.
Duh.
The only real choice in the matter is the efficiency of the crops selected for the locale.
Biofuel is nothing more than an organic Solar Battery.
Who’s writing these anti-terrestrial articles, anyway? Aliens?

James F. Evans

There are conflicting studies for whether corn ethanol is a net energy producer (takes more oil equivalence in energy to make it than is produced by the ethanol.)
But regardless of whether ethanol balances out slightly positive or slightly negative on the net energy scale, it makes little difference.
There isn’t a reason for using corn this way.
There is plenty of oil, supplies are plentiful & robust — and new supplies are coming on-line all the time.
Oil is being found as far as 230 miles from the coast of Brazil, and in waters over 7,000 feet deep, and then as deep as25,000 feet below the seabed.
This kind of ultra-deep water, ultra-deep drilling is also finding huge new supplies deep in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico.
“Big Oil never wanted to be here, in 4,300 feet of water far out in the Gulf of Mexico, drilling through nearly five miles of rock.”
“So, Chevron and other major oil companies are moving ever farther from shore in search of oil. That quest is paying off as these companies discover unexpectedly large quantities of oil — oil that only they have the technology and financial muscle to find and produce.”
“Beyond the Gulf of Mexico, companies have announced big finds off the coasts of Brazil and [West Africa] Ghana, leading some experts to suggest the existence of a massive oil reservoir stretching across the Atlantic from Africa to South America. Production from deepwater projects — those in water at least 1,000 feet deep — grew by 67%, or by about 2.3 million barrels a day, between 2005 and 2008, according to PFC Energy, a Washington consulting firm.” (see link below):
http://finance.yahoo.com/real-estate/article/108509/cramped-on-land-big-oil-bets-at-sea
Actually, a series of oil reservoirs which emanate from the “cracks of the world” which cover the seabed and land like a girdle.
Offshore magazine is the premiere trade publication for offshore oil exploration & development. In the January 2010 edition:
“Just as the voyagers of the science fiction Starship Enterprise probed the outer reaches of space to reveal new worlds, oil and gas exploration teams, working in the real world, have boldly gone where no one has gone before to discover giant fields in the deepest reaches of the Gulf of Mexico. They have taken a peek at billions of barrels of potential reserves.”
Trade publications, news articles, and scientific papers point to utra-deep hydrocarbons. And, oil companies are finding this oil at an accelerating rate:
More on this ultra-deep oil:
http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2150&start=120#p31833
Poke around the scientific papers, trade publications, and news articles in the above discussion.

toyotawhizguy

@John Galt (10:35:08) :
“What does this tell us about the fallacy of the USA setting an energy policy? When the government dictates winners and losers, the wrong answer is often chosen. Further, the official policy makes it very difficult for better technologies getting implemented.”
– – – – – – –
How about “The politics of self destruction”?
p.s. Nice screen name, inspired by “Atlas Shrugs”?

Mariner (09:48:50) :
From their model, they assume a 17% decrease in export production from corn grain and a 12% decrease in exports of soy. Makes sense, as we need a lot more corn to make all this ethanol.
However, we’re about 60% of the way there (current US ethanol production is ~9-10 billion gallons). So some of these effects should start to be seen. And what have we seen instead?
Our corn and soy exports are HIGHER than they were in 2001.

To keep things in perspective, 2001 was an *abysmal* year for US grain exports:
“Lost corn exports to the European Union: According to official USDA export and trade statistics, U.S. corn export quantity to the European Union has dropped from 2.778 MMT (million metric tons) in MY (marketing year) 1995/96 to the miniscule level of only 6,300 MT as of August 16, 2001 with only two weeks remaining in the current 2000/01 marketing year.”
And lost exports to the Pacific Rim nations were just as bad.
Care to guess why? That was the height of the “genetically-modified foods will turn us into mutants” meme being spread.
http://www.biotech-info.net/ACGA_letter.html
Meanwhile, US corn and soybean *exports* are up, but corn and soy *production* is down — farmers planted less acreage in anticipation of higher yields per acre, which didn’t materialize.
http://www.ethanolproducer.com/article.jsp?article_id=5674
In the interest of full disclosure, I eat corn.