“Big Oil vs The World”: BBC Exposé Fails (Episode III)

From MasterResource

By Richard W. Fulmer — September 21, 2022

“In its Ahab-like focus on harpooning ExxonMobil, the BBC missed an opportunity to explore the enormous challenges involved in replacing fossil fuels. The costs of ignoring those challenges may well be tragically put on display this winter when Europeans face freezing temperatures with nothing but BBC-approved power systems to keep them warm.”

In Episodes 1 and 2 of its three-part documentary, Big Oil vs The World, the BBC succeeded only in demonstrating its own bias. Time and again, viewers were presented with only one side of a many-sided issue. Episode 3 is no exception. This episode’s main narrative is that, for years, oil companies have touted natural gas as a clean alternative to coal, but poor execution has largely offset the benefits.

Per unit of energy generated, natural gas produces about half the carbon dioxide of coal. However, methane – the main component of natural gas – is itself a greenhouse gas. In fact, methane can trap more heat (20 to 80 times more, depending upon the chosen timescale) than carbon dioxide, although the damage that it does is limited by its relatively short life in the atmosphere (twelve years vs centuries).

Gas leaks – from wells, pipelines, and refineries – are releasing large amounts of methane around the world. Worse is the claim by Dr. Dar-Lon Chang, an engineer who worked for ExxonMobil from 2003 – 2019, that “There wasn’t much appetite for management to measure methane leakage because, if they found out there was a problem, they would have to do something about it.”

In the face of industry opposition, the Obama Administration tightened gas leakage regulations, but Trump reversed White House policy when he took office (testimony to the problems inherent in rule by executive order).

What the BBC Left Out

Methane Emission SourcesAccording to the International Energy Agency (IEA), wetlands are the main global source of methane emissions. Agriculture is the largest source of human emissions followed closely by energy production. Energy emissions can be separated into (in order of descending volumes): natural gas production, coal, oil, and biofuels. Waste emissions, including those from landfills, rank fourth, though they surpass those emitted from any of the four separate energy sources.

The Need for Natural Gas. Because governments around the world have mandated the use of intermittent power sources such as wind and solar, backup generation that can come online quickly is essential for those times when the wind dies or a cloud blocks the sun. By far the most used backups are gas turbines. They are energy efficient, inexpensive to build, and have small footprints making them easy to site. As the IEA states:

Oil and natural gas will be part of the energy system for decades to come – even under ambitious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.

InfrastructureAccording to the IEA:

In many cases, captured gas can be easily brought to market. However, in other cases, particularly where gas is co‑produced (or “associated”) with oil, existing pathways or businesses may not exist to bring the gas to productive use. In these cases, it may be necessary to construct new infrastructure to bring the gas to a consumer, including new compression equipment, gathering pipelines and transmission pipelines, or liquefaction facilities. Methane abatement may falter without policies that require or incentivise productive use of natural gas.

Blocking pipeline and LNG facility construction results in stranded gas that is either flared or, worse, simply released.

Improvements in U.S. Production PracticesAccording to a 2019 peer-reviewed study published in Geophysical Research Letters:

In the past decade, natural gas production in the United States has increased by ~46%…. Based on long‐term and well‐calibrated measurements, we find that (i) there is no large increase of total methane emissions in the United States in the past decade; (ii) there is a modest increase in oil and gas methane emissions, but this increase is much lower than some previous studies suggest; and (iii) the assumption of a time‐constant relationship between methane and ethane emissions has resulted in major overestimation of an oil and gas emissions trend in some previous studies.

In other words, emissions per unit of gas produced have fallen significantly. But ExxonMobil is by far the nation’s largest natural gas producer, accounting for 50% more production than its nearest competitor. So, how can Chang’s claims that the company ignores its gas leaks be true if emission rates are dropping?

Regulation. In June 2021, Congress reinstated methane emissions regulations, so no future President can eliminate them by fiat. In addition, both methane and CO2 emissions can now be detected from space. Satellites have identified methane leaks from various sources around the world, including farms, landfills, oil and gas operations, and coal mines.

While Congress can regulate the U.S. oil and gas industry, it cannot control emissions in countries such as Russia, Iran, China, and Turkmenistan. Banning natural gas production in the U.S. would enable nations with poor environmental records to produce – and emit – more. As I observed in my review of Episode 1, “emit more elsewhere” is not an effective policy.

Wind Turbine Whitewash

The BBC did an even worse job in interviewing renewable energy entrepreneur, Patrick Woodson. If its journalist asked Mr. Woodson any probing questions, they were left on the cutting room floor. Woodson was allowed to leave viewers with the impression that wind power is a complete alternative to fossil fuels. Left unmentioned is that wind turbines require backup because they work only when the wind blows.

Most conventional power generators such as coal and nuclear plants cannot be fired up quickly. They all generate steam that is used to drive turbines. But bringing water to a boil takes time and, unless such facilities are already up and running, they cannot be used as backup for intermittent power generators.

While natural gas turbines are the most used backups for wind and solar, there are other options.  Diesel generators can also be brought online within minutes. However, they have a larger footprint, generate more pollution and CO2, and are significantly less efficient than are combined-cycle gas turbines.

Batteries can provide instant power, but battery farms have a very large footprint and, for now, cannot provide large-scale backup for more than a few hours.

Pumped water storage is another alternative. During periods of low demand, excess energy generated by wind or solar is used to pump water up into a reservoir. During peak demand, the water is released through hydroelectric turbines. On the other hand, their footprint is quite large, and the number of suitable sites is limited. Also, only about a third of the energy used to pump the water into the reservoir can be reclaimed.

Another scheme that has been proposed is to store power by electrolyzing water to produce hydrogen and then using the hydrogen to fuel a turbine. Hydrogen burns very cleanly; its only product of combustion is water. As with pumped water storage, though, only a third of the energy used to separate the hydrogen can be recovered. In addition, the process consumes large quantities of water.

One of the more surprising ways in which to “backup” intermittent power sources is to upgrade transmission grids. Currently, for example, West Texas produces a large amount of wind power, but Texas’ ERCOT grid doesn’t have the capacity to transmit all that power to every corner of the state. So, if the wind dies in East Texas, strong winds in West Texas are of no use. While beefing up the Texas grid would ease the problem, transmission lines are expensive to build and maintain. Right-of-way must be acquired before they can be built, and environmental groups often oppose their construction.

This is only a partial list of possible alternatives. But the brief discussion of the pros and cons of each illustrates economist Thomas Sowell’s oft-repeated observation that, “There are no solutions, only tradeoffs.”

Big Oil on Trial

The documentary also looked at state and federal government attempts to sue petroleum firms for allegedly misleading the public. The segment included the following exchange between Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney and Congressman Ro Khanna and ExxonMobil CEO, Darren Woods:

Maloney:   Mr. Woods I want to ask you about some public statements that your predecessor, Lee Raymond, made in 1996 and 1997 about the inconclusive nature of the scientific evidence. Were they consistent with the views of Exxon’s own scientists?

Woods:   Yes, Chairwoman. Thank you for the question. Our understanding of the science has been aligned with the consensus of the scientific community as far back as twenty years ago when you referenced our chairman-at-that-time’s comments. And as science has evolved  and developed, our understanding has evolved and developed as has our work and position on the statement.

Khanna:  But in the spirit of giving you the chance to turn the page for the company, I assume that you would acknowledge that Mr. Raymond’s statement was a mistake and the company regrets it. Correct?

Woods:   Mr. Raymond’s statement was consistent with the science of the time…

Khanna:  I don’t even want to argue that, Mr. Woods. I don’t even want to argue that. I assume that now that it’s a false statement that the company regrets making it and would acknowledge that, right?

Woods:   I think that the expectation would be that we would look at the time it was said…

Khanna:  Forget whether it was consistent or not, can you just acknowledge that it was a mistake, and you regret that the statement was out there. Would you say that?

Woods:   I don’t think that it’s fair to judge something twenty-five years ago with what we’ve learned since that time…

Khanna:  Well, I’m disappointed that you’re not even willing to say that something is a mistake… 

In what world are people obliged to apologize for knowing more today than they did a quarter century ago? And why would anyone apologize if state Attorneys General were waiting to pounce on such a statement as an excuse to sue them into oblivion?

Following (Some of) the Money

In two of its episodes, the BBC’s documentary touched on the question of who funded climate skeptics while ignoring the question of funding for those on the other side of the debate. NGOs, which were well-represented in the interviews, have an interest in offering up scary scenarios in their fundraising efforts. And politicians who “never let a crisis go to waste,” are more than happy to have a never-ending crisis that can be forever milked for votes and campaign contributions.

Carbon Capture Rejected

Next, the BBC criticizes ExxonMobil for investigating carbon capture, not because it won’t work – the expert they interviewed admitted that it will, though most early pilot projects have failed – but because it will allow the world to continue burning fossil fuels. Yet the world must go on using fossil fuels until it is able to convert to practical alternatives – alternatives that are not just theoretical but installed and running.

Forgoing research into carbon capture makes sense only if we can reasonably expect to be off fossil fuels within a few years. But, with fossil fuels providing over 80% of the world’s energy, complete conversion is not going to happen anytime soon. Shutting down conventional power plants before alternatives are operational would deny energy to billions of people, forcing them to ravage the earth’s forests in desperate attempts to heat their homes and cook their food. In just the last few months, Germans, faced with soaring energy prices, have been trying to locate firewood before cold weather sets in.

Whether climate change will result in catastrophe is still an open scientific question. But there is no question that we can create catastrophe if we panic and dictate conversion from fossil fuels before we have systems to which we can convert.


In its Ahab-like focus on harpooning ExxonMobil, the BBC missed an opportunity to explore the enormous challenges involved in replacing fossil fuels. The costs of ignoring those challenges may well be tragically put on display this winter when Europeans face freezing temperatures with nothing but BBC-approved power systems to keep them warm.


Richard W. Fulmer is the coauthor (with Robert L. Bradley Jr.) of Energy: The Master Resource (Kendall-Hunt: 2004) and the author of numerous articles, book reviews, and blog posts in the classical-liberal tradition. 

This concludes a three-part series (Episode I here; Episode II here)

For other posts on the same subject (with Robert Bradley Jr.), see:

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September 23, 2022 10:39 am

The claim that methane is a strong greenhouse gas ignores several factors, the first being the fact that the bands absorbed by methane are already being saturated by water vapor. THe second is the fact that methane’s half life in the atmosphere is very short.

Beyond that, oil companies already have all the incentive they need to not waste methane. That being the fact that methane is a valuable product that can be sold.
The primary reason behind the attempts to restrict methane releases is just to make oil production itself so expensive that nobody will be able to afford oil.

Reply to  MarkW
September 23, 2022 10:53 am

Good comment. I would add that the claim CO2 has an atmospheric lifetime of centuries is similarly naive.

BTW, did anyone else see the video of the protester light himself on fire at Federer’s last tournament? Kind of ironic he does this by a tennis match.

Reply to  Scissor
September 24, 2022 5:43 am

I trust he used biofuel rather than fossil-fuel for his bit of narcissistic attention-getting

Richard W Fulmer
Reply to  MarkW
September 23, 2022 11:05 am

The oil companies certainly have an incentive to capture all the gas they can. However, not all of the gas is economic to capture and a lack of facilities increases the amount of “stranded” gas. That’s one reason that environmentalists’ opposition to pipelines is counterproductive.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  MarkW
September 23, 2022 11:43 am
Janice Moore
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
September 23, 2022 12:08 pm

From that excellent paper:

Proposals to place harsh restrictions on methane emissions because of warming fears
are not justified
by facts.

Richard W Fulmer
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
September 23, 2022 12:28 pm

From your paper:
“So the contribution of methane to the annual increase in forcing is one tenth (30/300) that of carbon dioxide. The net forcing increase from CH4 and CO2 increases is about 0.05 W m−2 year-1. Other things being equal, this will cause a temperature increase of about 0.012 C year-1.”

0.012 C/year comes to 1.2 C in a century. If, as the paper says, methane’s contribution is a tenth of CO2’s, that implies that CO2 will increase the temperature by 12 C in a hundred years. Combined with methane’s contribution, that comes to 13.2 C – triple the IPCC’s worst case scenario. Is there something wrong with the paper’s numbers or just the way I’m reading them?

Rick C
Reply to  Richard W Fulmer
September 23, 2022 1:00 pm

Read it again, this time for comprehension. It says 1.2 C/Century for CH4 and CO2 combined.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Richard W Fulmer
September 23, 2022 1:10 pm

The paper is Wijngaarden and Happer’s, not mine.
I have read it and the more detailed paper they released later covering several GHGs with more detail of their work, and having read it critically and with a reasonable knowledge of the relevant science I would have been delighted to have produced it.

You have misread. The statement is

The net forcing increase from CH4
and CO2
increases is about 0.05 W m−2 year−1. Other things being equal, this will cause a temperature increase of about 0.012 C year−1.

That is the combined effect of both gases is 1.2C per century. CO2 contributes 10/11ths of the total, and methane 1/11th.

Stephen Lindsay-Yule
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
September 23, 2022 6:36 pm

I have looked at the paper and it assumes that without greenhouse gases 400w-m2 would transfer through a transparent atmosphere. If the earth surface was 35C that would happen. Air parcel would expand losing 149wm2-198wm2 decompression and 250wm2 depleted infrared radiation.

Antarctic average north of 80° latitude gets as low as 150w-m2.

Earth has heat depending on time of year. Sun increases that heat if sun slowly intensifies each day by 11.1w-m2.

Surface isn’t 288K, it’s 278.3K. That’s 340w-m2 and does radiate 70% as the tropopause is 102w-m2. But in the paper it assumes 288K 394w-m2 so tropopause is 117w-m2. The human body is 36.5C and when we receive heat above 36.5C we sweat to cool down as we receive more heat than the heat we emit.

Earth is the same. earth is heated by fast moving molecules due to increased force.
This makes up 1/4 of earths excess heat 900wm2. As 75% escapes. Poles average equal this amount (217w-m2). At the equator 52% of solar energy is reflected while compression heating and solar heating at both the tropopause and ground surface make up 460w-m2. The average global 340wm2 (polar average 217w + solar heating 23wm2) and to equator is extra 23wm2 (363w-m2+97wm2(solar heated tropopause (greenhouse gases)) 460w-m2.
Greenhouse gases are between 97 at equator and 160w at polar region during 6 months of 24hr sunlight. Even higher for a short time over Antarctic in December.
Greenhouse gases are not 257w-m2 as global average.

Compression heating proof.png
Dave Fair
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
September 24, 2022 11:34 am

Its amazing that this WH paper has been around over 3 years and CliSciFi is hyping methane more and more.

David Dibbell
Reply to  MarkW
September 23, 2022 12:34 pm

The third fact about methane’s greenhouse gas insignificance is that there is so little of it in the atmosphere (about 1.7 ppmv).

September 23, 2022 11:24 am

“In fact, methane can trap more heat (20 to 80 times more, depending upon the chosen timescale) than carbon dioxide, although the damage that it does is limited by its relatively short life in the atmosphere (twelve years vs centuries).” (Emphasis mine)

I’ve seen statements about how long CO2 or CH4 last in the atmosphere. How do we all “know” that? Did someone, a thousnad years ago, tag a CO2 molecule and have a group of descendants track it? (Yes, I’m being facetious.) But how do we “know” the duration of either CO2 or CH4 in the atmosphere?

Janice Moore
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 23, 2022 12:33 pm

Methane has a half life of about 10 years in the atmosphere, before it is oxidized to carbon dioxide and water.

(Source: Wijngaarden and Happer, https://wvanwijngaarden.info.yorku.ca/files/2020/09/Methane-PaperREV1-Jan.-17-2019.pdf at 5)

The atmospheric residence time of methane is approximately nine years.

(Source: https://www.noaa.gov/news-release/increase-in-atmospheric-methane-set-another-record-during-2021 )




In this study, using the combustion/chemical-engineering Perfectly Stirred Reactor (PSR) mixing structure, or 0-D Box, for the model-basis, as alternative to the more-commonly used Global Circulation Models (GCM’s), to define and determine the RT in the atmosphere, then, using data from the IPCC and other sources for model validation and numerical determination, the data:

(1) support the validity of the PSR model-application in this context; and

(2) from the analysis, provide (quasi-equilibrium) residence times for CO2 of: ~5 years carrying C12; and of ~16 years carrying C14,

with both values essentially in agreement with the IPCC short-term (4-year) value, separately, in agreement with most other data sources and notably a (1998) listing by Segalstad of 36 other published values, also in the range 5 to 15 years. 

by Robert H. Essenhigh, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA. In press in the journal ‘Energy and Fuels’, but now available at ACS website http://pubs.acs.org/articlesonrequest/AOR-fAEJXMX3JgkNFmgAkdpu

quoted here: https://jennifermarohasy.com/2009/04/carbon-dioxide-in-atmosphere-5-15-years-only/ – bolding, mine.)

See also some excellent, highly informative, comments below that Jennifer Marohasy post. Svend Hendriksen’s and Sunsettommy’s, for instance.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Janice Moore
September 24, 2022 11:43 am

Just a point of clarification: It is my understanding that the half-life of something in years is the number of years it takes to reduce whatever you are measuring by half. At the end of that period one has half the number one started with on the initial year. That half (its value) is reduced by half at the end of a second period. And so on.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Dave Fair
September 24, 2022 12:44 pm

That was my understanding, too.

I think what was meant was the rate of decay, or “half life,” is such that the residence time is about 10 years. That wasn’t what was written, though….🤨

I hope someone will come along and explain how “residence time” and “half life” are being defined, here.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 23, 2022 3:09 pm

There were experiments done after the open air a-bomb tests. These tests injected several unique isotopes of carbon into the atmosphere. Some of these atoms combined with O2 to form CO2. Since the isotopes were unique (I don’t remember which isotopes they were) these molecules of CO2 could be tracked.
What they found was that the half life of CO2 was around a dozen years.

Janice Moore
Reply to  MarkW
September 23, 2022 4:54 pm

July 1, 2013
The Bombtest Curve and Its Implications for Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Residency Time
“… By Gösta Petterssen — The Keeling curve establishes that the atmospheric carbon dioxide level has shown a steady long-term increase since 1958. Proponents of AGW (the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis) have attributed the increasing carbon dioxide level to human activities … Opponents of the AGW hypothesis have argued that this would require that the turnover time for atmospheric carbon dioxide be about 100 years, which is inconsistent with a multitude of experimental studies indicating that the turnover time is on the order of 10 years.
Since its formation in 1988, the IPCC (United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has disregarded empirically determined turnover times, claiming that they lack bearing on the rate at which anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are removed from the atmosphere. 

Instead, the fourth IPCC assessment report argues that the removal of carbon dioxide emissions is adequately described by the ‘Bern model’, … based on the presumption that the increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide derive exclusively from anthropogenic emissions. Tuned to fit the Keeling curve, the model prescribes that the relaxation of an emission pulse of carbon dioxide is multi-phasic, with slow components reflecting slow transfer of carbon dioxide from the oceanic surface to the deep-sea regions. The problem is, empirical observations tell us an entirely different story.
The nuclear weapon tests in the early 1960’s initiated a scientifically ideal tracer experiment describing the kinetics of removal of an excess of airborne carbon dioxide. When the atmospheric bomb tests ceased in 1963, they had raised the air level of C14-carbon dioxide to almost twice its original background value. The relaxation of this pulse of excess C14-carbon dioxide has now been monitored for fifty years. Representative results providing direct experimental records of more than 95% of the relaxation process are shown in Fig.1. [graph]
The IPCC has disregarded the bombtest data in Fig. 1 (which refer to the C14/C12 ratio), arguing that ‘an atmospheric perturbation in the isotopic ratio disappears much faster than the perturbation in the number of C14 atoms.’ That argument … certainly is incorrect. Fig. 2 shows the data in Fig. 1 after rescaling and correction for the minor dilution effects caused by the increased atmospheric concentration of C12-carbon dioxide during the examined period of time. [graph]
To draw attention to the bombtest curve and its important implications, I have made public a trilogy of strict reaction kinetic analyses addressing the controversial views expressed on the interpretation of the Keeling curve by proponents and opponents of the AGW hypothesis.

Paper 1 in the trilogy clarifies that:
a. The bombtest curve provides an empirical record of more than 95% of the relaxation of airborne C14-carbon dioxide. Since kinetic carbon isotope effects are small, the bombtest curve can be taken to be representative for the relaxation of emission pulses of carbon dioxPide in general;
b. The relaxation process conforms to a mono-exponential relationship (red curve in Fig. 2) and, thus, can be described in terms of a single relaxation time (turnover time). There is no kinetically valid reason to disregard reported experimental estimates (5–14 years) of this relaxation time;
c. The exponential character of the relaxation implies that the rate of removal of C14 has been proportional to the amount of C14. This means that the observed 95% of the relaxation process has been governed by the atmospheric concentration of C14-carbon dioxide according to the law of mass action, without any detectable contributions from slow oceanic events; and
d. The Bern model prescriptions (blue curve in Fig. 2) are inconsistent with the observations, and gravely underestimate both the rate and the extent of removal of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. On the basis of the Bern model predictions, the IPCC states that it takes [ ] hundreds of years before the first 80% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are removed from the air.  The bombtest curve shows that it takes less than 25 years.
Paper 2 in the trilogy uses the kinetic relationships derived from the bombtest curve to calculate how much the atmospheric carbon dioxide level has been affected by emissions of anthropogenic carbon dioxide since 1850. The results show that only half of the Keeling curve’s long-term trend towards increased carbon dioxide levels originates from anthropogenic emissions. 

The Bern model and other carbon cycle models, tuned to fit the Keeling curve, are routinely used by climate modelers to obtain input estimates of future carbon dioxide levels for postulated emissions scenarios. … estimates thus obtained exaggerate man-made contributions to future carbon dioxide levels (and consequent global temperatures) by factors of 3–14 for representative emission scenarios and time periods extending to the year 2100 or longer.  For empirically supported parameter values, the climate model projections actually provide evidence that global warming due to emissions of fossil carbon dioxide will remain within acceptable limits.
Paper 3 in the trilogy draws attention to the fact that warm water holds less dissolved carbon dioxide than cold water. This means that global warming during the 20th century … has led to a thermal out-gassing of carbon dioxide from the hydrosphere. Using a kinetic air-ocean model, the strength of this thermal effect can be estimated by analysis of the temperature dependence of the multi-annual fluctuations of the Keeling curve and can be described in terms of the activation energy for the out-gassing process. … During the last two decades, contributions from thermal out-gassing have been almost 40% larger than those from anthropogenic emissions. This is illustrated by the model data in Fig. 3, which also indicate that the Keeling curve can be quantitatively accounted for in terms of the combined effects of thermal out-gassing and anthropogenic emissions. [graph]
The results in Fig. 3 call for a drastic revision of the carbon cycle budget presented by the IPCC.  In particular, the extensively discussed ‘missing sink’ (called ‘residual terrestrial sink’ in the fourth IPCC report) can be identified as the hydrosphere. The amount of emissions taken up by the oceans has been gravely underestimated by the IPCC due to neglect of thermal out-gassing. … By supporting the Bern model and similar carbon cycle models, the IPCC and climate modelers have taken the stand that the Keeling curve can be presumed to reflect only anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. The results in Papers 1–3 show that this presumption is inconsistent with virtually all reported experimental results that have a direct bearing on the relaxation kinetics of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
As long as climate modelers continue to disregard the available empirical information on thermal out-gassing and on the relaxation kinetics of airborne carbon dioxide, their model predictions will remain too biased to provide any inferences of significant scientific or political interest. …”
(https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/01/the-bombtest-curve-and-its-implications-for-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide-residency-time/ )
[Ed. There were 519. Please see thread.]


I copied this with a bit of editing from:

“WUWT, The Battle for Science — The First Ten Years” at 1804-06.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Janice Moore
September 23, 2022 6:15 pm

Thanks for the excellent post and information, Janice.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 23, 2022 8:27 pm

My pleasure. Thank you for saying so 🙂

Stephen Lindsay-Yule
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 24, 2022 6:27 am

That’s your opinion. I can’t see it being fact. Where are the measurements?
Methane 16g per mole x 34.53 moles per 552.45g x 0.518 Joules = 287 Joules
Air 28.96 per mole x 34.53 moles per 1000g x 0.287 Joules = 287 Joules
287 Joules = 1m³ Air x 3.48 = 1 watt
287 Joules = 55,000 m³ x 3.48 = 0.000005 watt.
As for CO2 emitted being in the atmosphere for centuries.
30.8GtCO2 was sequestered during the summer after the peak in May.
426.9ppm May 17th (2347.95GtCO2)
421.3ppm Sept 6th (2317.15GtCO2)
5.6ppm (30.8GtCO2)

September 23, 2022 11:29 am

Look! There’s a squirrel.

Did they do that in the 1930s with the other land wars in Europe?

September 23, 2022 11:36 am

The waffen BBC

It doesn't add up...
September 23, 2022 11:39 am

You missed that using batteries results in round trip losses that start at about 20% and increase as the batteries age. Battery aging leads to a loss of effective capacity too, and power electronics have a limited life so effectively the whole system has to be replaced every decade or so, adding enormously to cost.

Also, you were unkind to pumped hydro, where round trip efficiencies are more typically 75%, perhaps more.

Richard W Fulmer
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
September 23, 2022 11:49 am

Lithium batteries also have a bad habit of occasionally bursting into flame.

Reply to  Richard W Fulmer
September 24, 2022 5:33 am

Only when they’re being charged.
Or at other times . . . .


David Dibbell
September 23, 2022 12:24 pm

Good article.

But about pumped hydro energy storage: “Also, only about a third of the energy used to pump the water into the reservoir can be reclaimed.”

Published numbers are more like 70-85%, which make more sense to me from an engineering viewpoint.. E.g., here https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/energy-storage-2019#:~:text=Pumped%2Dstorage%20hydropower%20is%20more,hours%20for%20lithium%2Dion%20batteries.

Thanks for including the Darren Woods answers to congressional questioners. Interesting. When climate science re-discovers that CO2 never did have the ability to drive the climate to a bad outcome, ExxonMobil will no doubt align.


One more thing: “Forgoing research into carbon capture makes sense only if we can reasonably expect to be off fossil fuels within a few years.” No. It makes no sense to ever spend good money to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for climate reasons, so forgoing the cost of research makes good sense, in my view. Especially because emissions from China, India, and elsewhere will absolutely dwarf any artificial removal.

Richard W Fulmer
Reply to  David Dibbell
September 23, 2022 12:30 pm

Excellent point.

oeman 50
Reply to  David Dibbell
September 24, 2022 8:41 am

Ah, David, when I saw that number, I knew it was not accurate from experience. So I looked up a source and was planning a response with that. Then I saw your post and it agreed with my number. Good stuff.

Dave Fair
Reply to  David Dibbell
September 24, 2022 11:51 am

David, an astute observation. No matter the damage of Western Nut Zero, the experiment will be run on Earth’s climate system.

September 23, 2022 1:01 pm

Dr. Dar-Lon Chang, an engineer who worked for ExxonMobil from 2003 – 2019, that “There wasn’t much appetite for management to measure methane leakage because, if they found out there was a problem, they would have to do something about it.”

That’s just complete nonsense. Leaks are a loss of revenue, fire hazard, possible asphyxiation or explosion hazard. As a construction engineering contractor for a number of energy companies, I can attest that these companies have anti-leak programs and repair policies. All facilities are leak tested prior to start-up. Leaks after that point that become identified by operations staff will have a determination made of when the best time to make the repair it is. This can be anytime from “right now” to “next scheduled maintenance shutdown”.
The 2.5% leakage loss fron natural gas systems is also nonsense. A shut-in facility will show zero leakage and pressure drop that matches the fuel gas meter consumption within 1/4%, which a 3 orders of magnitude less than the plant throughput. A shut-in pipeline will show no leakage for as many weeks as you want to watch the pressure gauge once adjusted for temperature as the line cools to ground temperature.
There are some items like stuffing box leaks, tank filling losses, valve stems, some local requirements for flareless production testing that are difficult to avoid (without creating far more greenhouse gas than you are saving)….so the 2.5 % number is a hat grab number.

September 23, 2022 3:11 pm

CO2’s residence time is a few years, not centuries.

Reply to  David Wojick
September 23, 2022 3:39 pm

Not that it matters, it has only proven to improve the environment we live in.

Janice Moore
Reply to  HotScot
September 23, 2022 4:57 pm


— Thought I’d better label that. Looks like it could be me just “waving” at you 🙄

Iain Reid
September 24, 2022 12:03 am

A small part of this article perpetuates the more than simplistic view:-

“Left unmentioned is that wind turbines require backup because they work only when the wind blows.”

Wind (and solar) require a large amount of conventional generation (Closed cycle gas turbine generators in the U.K.) to be running continually to ensure demand and supply are balanced. There is a practical limit as to how much wind or solar power can be accepted by a grid before it overwhelms the stable balancing and base load supply and frequency goes out of limits, i.e. power trip.
The common view it seems is that we switch reliable power plants as required for renewables’ drop in output. This is completely false. Storage is used where there is a sudden deficit of supply versus demand as they can come on line almost instantly and keep frequency (The measure of supply and demand balance) within tolerance which gives time for the conventional plants to increase power as required. Pumped storage was the original way of doing this and predates any renewable generation being connected to the grid.
The essential running of the balancing generation means that it is running less economically than otherwise would be the case and requires more maintenace due to continual varying load changes, all adding to electrcity unit cost.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Iain Reid
September 24, 2022 7:37 am

Actually grid inertia, which is entirely automatic from the laws of physics, is still the main defence against frequency excursions, with droop control the second line of defence before additional plant is called on. Batteries are still supplemental rather than pivotal. The volumes of Dynamic Containment being contracted are typically only in the low hundreds of MW. In recent times they have been called for high frequency events on the loss of an export interconnector as much as for low frequency events.

Interestingly in the August 2019 blackouts caused by the deloading of Horsea wind farm and the progressive loss of Little Barford CCGT, batteries failed to perform in accordance with their contracted response, and there was no attempt to ramp up output from Dinorwig despite its theoretical fast response of being able to deliver 1.7GW in 16 seconds from spinning in air. That experience reinforced the dangers of letting inertia drop too low without other reliable response. The Grid have been doing some world leading stuff on inertia measurement and securing better battery operation. Nevertheless future plans to drop to a 2 second reserve (GVAs of inertia divided by GW of demand) or less seem high risk.

The Loss of Mains Control programme is forcing generators to stay connected rather than trip at much bigger levels of frequency excursion, which may preserve the grid from blackout short term, but at the expense of maintenance bills and possible damage to equipment.

Dave Fair
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
September 24, 2022 11:58 am

Socialism also manages shortages by cutting safety standards.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Iain Reid
September 24, 2022 12:01 pm

Iain, our systems were sufficiently robust such that we used pumped hydro mainly for economic dispatch.

September 24, 2022 4:55 am

To put the size of Exxon in a global perspective

Dave Fair
Reply to  Hans Erren
September 24, 2022 12:23 pm

Yeah, Hans: The vultures may put Exon out of business and Brandon may stop oil and gas production on Federal lands and in the oceans off U.S. coasts, but you demonstrate where the real control resides. Halting oil and gas production by Federal-controlled resources would not even be a bump in the road.

Learn Mandarin: The West is through without major transformative change in the composition of our elites. To mangle an old (inaccurate) Soviet-era quote: China is selling us the rope we are currently using to hang ourselves.

September 24, 2022 10:47 am

In two of its episodes, the BBC’s documentary touched on the question of who funded climate skeptics while ignoring the question of funding for those on the other side of the debate. …

With a particular example being ex-Greenpeace / ex-Ozone Action executive director John Passacantando, a man who seems to swim in dark money payments as he apparently funnels some of that cash to another ex-Greenpeace person — this duo, by the way, being caught several years back in some kind of effort to “establish in the public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution.”

But in the U.S. version of this BBC program, the same producer here grilled the late Dr Patrick Michaels in that Frontline program about his funding, where he could barely remember who the supposedly fossil fuel-associated group was that she was talking about.

Richard W Fulmer
Reply to  Russell Cook
September 25, 2022 3:00 pm

One of the ways in which BBC/PBS documentary slanted their documentary was to edit interviews with skeptics (or, in Dr. Michaels’ case, “lukewarmers”) so that viewers didn’t hear them explain the reasons for their beliefs. Instead, we heard little more than them defending themselves against, for example, charges of taking dirty money. It seems very likely that at sometime during their interviews, the skeptics made some actual arguments. If so, such statements didn’t make the cut.

The documentary takes pains to report that no oil company was willing to give an interview. The refusal, it was implied, was tantamount to an admission of guilt. Given the way dissenters were treated, however, the companies’ refusals more likely reflect wisdom.

Antonio Campos
September 30, 2022 7:18 am

I would like to know if there is any research on wind turbines direct effect in climate.
Wind is an atmospheric mechanism that naturally reduces temperature differences in the earth’s surface. Wind turbines reduce wind, exttacting energy from the mechanism, so they arguably exarcerbate temperature diffences in the surface, and might be blamed for record low and high temperatures, regardless of climate change.

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