Friday, November 30, 2007

Tracking Gasoline Prices in America

Gasoline prices are down one month, after they were up the previous month, and then will shoot up the next. Many variables affect the price of gasoline. Tracking them is difficult making it practically impossible to predict. Plus, they're different depending on where you are. Other states and cities, and other countries can have very different gas prices from your local gas station.

Gasoline continues to be the nation’s bloodline. It is what keeps America on the go. Last year 140 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel were pumped into just our personal cars alone, up 3.2 percent from the previous year.

Many forces impact the price of gas at the pump. The biggest portion of the cost of gas is crude oil, presently that is about 50 percent. This is determined by the world's oil-exporting nations, particularly the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The price of a barrel of oil is determined by how much these countries are producing. Price increases generally occur when the world crude-oil market tightens and lowers inventories. Another portion of the price covers the cost of the refining process. The cost of distribution and marketing also has to be included in the price. Federal and state excise taxes are in the price, too. All these factors vary and fluctuate. Natural disasters, weather, war and world events can step in to change the price of gasoline also.

According to a Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) report, Americans drive more than 2.5 trillion miles per year in automobiles, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs). With SUVs continually growing in popularity we are only getting more dependent on gasoline. A severe gas shortage would practically cripple the country. This high demand usually translates into higher gasoline prices. According to the Department of Energy, the United States consumes an average of 20 million barrels of oil daily, Of that, about 45 percent is used for motor gasoline or something like 178 million gallons is consumed every day.

The time of year can drive gasoline prices to go up. Typically, when lots of people go on vacation during the summer, the demand for gas spikes. In some years (like in 2004), prices continued to rise past the end of the summer travel season for a variety of reasons, including several hurricanes and an increase in the price of crude oil. Also, growing demand can sometimes outpace refinery capacity. In the spring, refineries perform maintenance, which slows or stops production. Oil refineries are usually back to full capacity by the end of May. So again, the time of year affects the price of gasoline. Oil companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation follow a production schedule that adheres to industry standards.

The Price of Gasoline at the Pump

There are actually many factors that determine what you end up paying at the pump. You might think it is dependent on the price of crude oil. The money you pay at the pump gets broken down into little pieces that get distributed among several entities. Just like any other consumer product, gasoline’s supply chain determines what the price will be. Several groups have to get paid for their contribution.

The biggest portion of the cost of gas is crude oil, presently that is about 50 percent. This is determined by the world's oil-exporting nations, particularly the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The price of a barrel of oil is determined by how much these countries are producing.

Prices of crude oil fluctuate upwards in a time of emergency or after a disaster when they have been known to double. Even when there is plenty of crude oil on the market, sometimes gas prices can go up. Because it depends on what kind is plentiful: the light or sometimes labeled “sweet” oil or the heavy (“sour”) type. Light crude is easier and cheaper to refine. There is a lot of heavy crude available in the world, but refineries have to undergo costly retooling to handle it.

The next portion (28%) of the cost of gasoline has to do with the refining of crude oil. This cost is determined by how much is distilled from the crude oil batch and the refining process costs involved.

Crude oil is transported to refineries and gasoline is shipped from the refineries to distribution points and then to gas stations. The price of this transportation is included in the gasoline price at the pump. The advertising costs of the certain brand is also passed along to the consumer. The distribution and marketing together account for 8% of the price of gasoline.

In the United States, 14% of the total price of gas is for taxes (federal and local). Federal excise taxes are 18.4 cents per gallon, and state excise taxes average 18.2 cents per gallon. There may also be some additional taxes such as applicable state sales taxes, gross receipts taxes, underground storage tank fees, and environmental fees. Taxes vary from state to state making the price of gas vary too.

Some of the actual money you spend at the pump does go to the service station which usually adds a couple of cents per gallon. There's no set standard; so shopping around may be a worthwhile option. Some states have markup laws designed to protect small, individually-owned gas stations from being driven out of business by large chains.

Other variables can affect the price of gasoline. Competition between local gas stations can drive prices down. Distance from the oil refineries due to transportation costs involved can change the price. Anything that affects any part of the process, from when the oil is drilled, through refining and distribution will result in a price change. World events, wars and weather disasters can also raise prices. And, as in just recently, legislation in Washington DC can also affect the price. All of these factors must be studied and watched by the oil companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation to help them predict the future of their products in the constantly changing marketplace.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Finding Oil

The United States, in 2005 alone, consumed per day an estimate of 9 million barrels of crude oil and 13.21 million barrels of imported oil. This oil is refined into gasoline, kerosene, heating oil and other essential products. To keep up with this demand, oil companies must constantly look for new sources of petroleum, as well as improve the production of existing wells.

The fossil fuel oil can be found in countries all over the world. It was formed from the remains of tiny plants and animals (plankton) that died in ancient seas millions of years ago. After the organisms died, they sank into the sand at the sea’s bottom. Over the years, the organisms decayed in the sedimentary layers. Because there was little oxygen there, the organisms broke down into carbon-rich compounds. This material mixed with the sediments, forming fine-grained shale which known as the source rock. As new sedimentary layers were deposited, they put intense pressure and heat on the source rock which distilled the organic material into crude oil and natural gas. The oil flowed from the source rock and accumulated in thicker, more porous limestone or sandstone, called reservoir rock.

Movements and shifts in the Earth’s surface trapped oil and natural gas in the reservoir rocks between layers of impermeable rock, or cap rock, such as granite and marble. These movements of the earth included folding when the rock moved horizontally inward creating a fold or anticline; faulting where the layers of rock cracked with one side shifting upward and the other downward, and pinching out when a layer of impermeable rock squeezed upward into the reservoir rock.

Oil companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation employ directly or under contract from a private firm, geologists who actually find the oil. Their task is to find the right conditions for an oil trap—the right source rock, reservoir rock and entrapment. They interprete surface features, surface rock, soil types, and small core samples obtained by shallow drilling and, nowadays, with the additional help of satellite images. They also can use sensitive gravity meters to measure tiny changes in the Earth's gravitational field that indicate flowing oil, as well as sensitive magnetometers to measure tiny changes in the Earth's magnetic field caused by flowing oil. They can detect the smell of hydrocarbons using sensitive electronic noses called sniffers. And they also most commonly use seismology, creating shock waves passing through hidden rock layers. In seismic surveys, a shock wave is created by a compressed-air gun which shoots pulses of air into the water for exploration over water, a thumper truck which slams heavy plates into the ground for exploration over land, and explosives drilled into the ground for exploration over both land and water.

Although modern oil exploration methods have made it easier for finding oil, geologists still only have a 10-percent success rate for finding new oil fields. Once a prospective oil strike is found, the location is marked.

Chris Jent is the Chief Marketing Officer of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit htttp://

Fractional Distillation of Crude Oil

The make-up of crude oil consists mostly of carbon and hydrogen. Hydrocarbons come in different molecular forms. Longer chains with 5 or more carbons are liquids. Very long chains are solids like wax or tar. By chemically cross-linking hydrocarbon chains you can get a variety of different products like synthetic rubber, nylon, and even plastic. Hydrocarbons are very versatile depending on their cross-linking.

At the oil drilling site, after the rig is removed, a pump is placed on the well head. The pump system extracts the crude oil; then it is brought for refining and the process of distillation. The first step is to separate the oil components by size, weight, and boiling temperature. The process called fractional distillation separates the components by heat. Different substances have different boiling temperatures. Fractional distillation is useful for separating a mixture of substances with narrow (fractional) differences in boiling points, and is the most important step in the refining process.

The steps in this process are as follows: the mixture of two or more substances (liquids) with different boiling points are heated to a high temperature. A vapor (gases) form as the mixture boils. This vapor goes into the fractional distillation column that has trays or plates at different levels. These trays collect the liquids that form at various heights in the column. The temperature gauge runs from hot at the bottom of the column to cool at the top.

As the vapor rises through the column with trays, it cools. When a substance in the vapor reaches a level in the column where the temperature is equal to that substance's boiling point, it will condense into the form of a liquid. This liquid fraction is collected in the tray at the appropriate height. As the liquid cools even more, it passes from the tray to storage tanks or to other areas for further chemical processing.

Most of the components that go through fractional distillation have to be chemically processed further before becoming marketable. For example, one of the major products coming from crude oil, gasoline is only 40% distilled crude oil. Distillated and chemically processed fractions are treated to remove impurities, such as organic compounds containing sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen, water, dissolved metals and inorganic salts. Treatment usually involves passing through a column of sulfuric acid, an absorption column filled with drying agents, and/or a hydrogen-sulfide scrub.

After treatment and more cooling, the fractions are blended together to make various products, such as gasoline, lubricating oils, and kerosene (all of various weights and grades), jet fuel, diesel fuel, and heating oil. Further chemical processing will turn the crude oil into plastics and other polymers. Oil companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation have production crews at the refineries to make sure that the fractional distillation process at the refineries produce enough of every product.

Chris Jent is the Chief Marketing Officer of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

Land Oil Rig Systems

The modern oil exploration methods today include using sensitive gravity meters, magnetometers, electronic noses called sniffers, and seismology. These all help the geologists determine where there is oil to be drilled. Once the site is selected, the land is prepared for drilling. The rig equipment may be transported to the site by truck or helicopter depending on the remoteness of the area. When the equipment is at the site, the rig is set up. The major systems or anatomy of a land oil rig are the power system, the mechanical system, the rotating equipment, and the circulation system.

Large diesel engines burn diesel-fuel oil to provide the main source of power. Electrical generators are powered by the diesel engines to provide electrical power. This is the power system of the land oil rig.

The mechanical system is driven by electric motors. A mechanical winch called drawworks is used for hoisting heavy loads. The drawworks has a large steel cable spool, a block-and-tackle pulley, and a receiving storage reel for the cable. The mechanics also include a turntable, part of the drilling apparatus.

Rotary drilling requires the rotating equipment of a swivel, kelly, turntable or rotary table, drill string, and drill bits. The large handle or swivel is used to hold the weight of the drill string allowing the string to rotate and make a pressure-tight seal on the hole. The kelly is a four-or-six-sided pipe that transfers rotary motion to the turntable and drill string. The turntable or rotary table drives the rotating motion using power from electric motors. The drill string consists of drill pipe (connected sections of about 30 feet or 10 meters) and drill collars, larger in diameter and heavier, this pipe fits around the drill pipe and places weight on the drill bit. The drill bit(s) are at the end of the drill which actually cut the rock. They comes in many shapes and materials (tungsten carbide steel, diamond) that are specialized for various drilling tasks and rock formations.

The large-diameter concrete pipe that lines the drill hole is called casing. It prevents the hole from collapsing, and allows drilling mud to circulate which brings us to the circulation system.

The circulation system is made up of pumps, drilling mud, pipes and hoses, a mud-return line, a shale shaker, a shale slide, the reserve pit, mud pits, and a mud-mixing hopper. The drilling mud is a mixture of water, clay, weighting material and chemicals used to lift rock cuttings from the drill bit to the surface. The pump sucks mud from the mud pits and pumps it to the drilling apparatus. Pipes and hoses connect everything to the drilling apparatus. There is a line that returns mud from hole. The shale shaker is a sleeve that separates rock cuttings from the mud which are conveyed to the reserve pit by the shale slide. The reserve pit collects rock cuttings separated from the mud. Mud pits collect the drilling mud mixed by the mud-mixing hopper and recycle it.

A derrick is the support structure that holds the drilling apparatus, It is tall enough to allow new sections of drill pipe to be added to the drilling apparatus as drilling progresses.

The final system is the blowout preventer which consists of high-pressure valves located under the land rig or on the sea floor that seal the high-pressure drill lines and relieve pressure when necessary to prevent a blowout.

These major systems all work together in bringing the oil to the surface. Oil companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation have production crews working these rigs to accommodate today’s demand for this energy.

Chris Jent is the Chief Marketing Officer of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit htttp://

Just What is in Crude Oil?

The unprocessed oil that comes out from the ground is called crude oil, also known as petroleum. Crude oil is one of the fossil fuels from which we get energy. It was made naturally from decaying plants and animals living in ancient seas millions of years ago found any place where there were once sea beds. Crude oil varies in its consistency from water to almost solid, and varies in color from clear to tar-black.

The hydrocarbons (molecules containing both hydrogen and carbon) in crude oils are a useful starting point for so many different substances. Hydrocarbons contain a lot of energy. This energy is captured in the products derived from crude oil like gasoline, diesel fuel, methane, and paraffin wax.

The make-up of crude oil consists of the following elements or compounds: 84% carbon,14% hydrogen, 1 to 3% sulfur as hydrogen sulfide, sulfides, disulfides, elemental sulfur, less than 1% nitrogen, less than 1% oxygen found in organic compounds such as carbon dioxide, phenols, ketones, carboxylic acids, less than 1% metals (nickel, iron, vanadium, copper, arsenic) and less than 1% salt (sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride).

Hydrocarbons can take on many different forms. Methane (CH4) is the smallest hydrocarbon. This is a gas that is a lighter than air. Hydrocarbons come in different molecular forms. Longer chains with 5 or more carbons are liquids. Very long chains are solids like wax or tar. By chemically cross-linking hydrocarbon chains you can get a variety of different products like synthetic rubber, nylon, and even plastic.

The major classes of hydrocarbons in crude oils include paraffins (typically liquids such as methane, propane, butane), aromatics, (typically liquids such as benzene, naphthalene), and napthenes or cycloalkanes (typically liquids at room temperature such as cyclohexane, methyl cyclopentane). Hydrocarbons called alkenes which can be either liquid or gas are ethylene, butene, isobutene. Other hydrocarbons which also can be either liquid or gas are dienes and alkynes (acetylene, butadienes). Hydrocarbons are indeed versatile depending on their cross-linking.

Through heating and chemical processing, crude oil can be made into many different products. It is a great resource. Oil companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation supply barrels of crude oil to refineries where everything is separated into useful substances. Chemists separate things into various components by heating the crude oil, vaporizing it and then condensing it. This process is called fractional distillation. The refineries must treat the fractions to remove impurities. Chemical processing on some of the fractions to make others in the process is called conversion. So if the demand for gasoline increases, a refinery can change diesel fuel into gasoline. Refineries also combine the various fractions into mixtures to produce more desired products like gasoline with different octane ratings. In addition to making the different oil-based products, refineries are responsible to treat the wastes involved to minimize pollution.

Chris Jent is the Chief Marketing Officer of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

Drilling and Testing for Oil

Once the oil rig system is set up and in place, the crew starts the drilling operation. Above where the geologists have predicted the oil trap is located, a starter hole is drilled to the surface hole and down to a pre-set depth. There are five basic steps to drilling the surface hole. First the drill bit is placed in the collar and drill pipe in the hole. The kelly is attached to the turntable and drilling begins. As drilling progresses, mud is circulated through the pipe and out of the bit to float the rock cuttings out of the hole. New sections (joints) are added to the drill pipes as the hole gets deeper. Lastly, the drill pipe, collar and bit are removed (tripped out) when the pre-set depth is reached which is generally between a few hundred and a couple-thousand feet.

When the pre-set depth is reached, the crew must run and cement the casing which involves placing the casing-pipe sections into the hole to prevent it from collapsing in on itself. To keep it centered in the hole, casing pipe has spacers around the outside. The casing crew puts the casing pipe in the hole. Using a bottom plug, a cement slurry, a top plug and drill mud, the cement crew pumps cement down the casing pipe. The pressure from the drill mud causes the cement slurry to move through the casing and fill the space between the outside of the casing and the hole. Finally, the cement is allowed to harden and then tested for hardness, alignment and a proper seal. This describes the method of drilling that has been used for years. The oil industry and the U.S. Department of Energy are working to drill oil with new drilling technologies, including horizontal drilling techniques, to reach oil under ecologically-sensitive areas, and using lasers to drill. Triple Diamond Energy Corporation stays current with the new drilling techniques to make sure that it is done appropriately and accurately.

After the crew drill, then run and cement new casings, they then drill again to ensure they have reached the appropriate depth. The final depth is reached when the rock cuttings from the mud reveal the oil sand from the reservoir rock. At this point, the drilling apparatus is removed from the hole. Then further tests are performed to confirm that they have drilled in the correct spot to reach the oil.

Well logging is done by lowering electrical and gas sensors into the hole to take measurements of the rock formations in the spot drilled. In order to do drill-stem testing a device is lowered into the hole to measure the pressures, revealing whether reservoir rock has been reached. Core rock samples are taken to look for characteristics of reservoir rock.

Once the final depth is reached, the crew completes the well to allow oil to flow into the casing in a controlled manner. After the well is completed, the flow of oil into the well starts. To help the flow, acid is pumped down the well and out the perforations for limestone reservoir rock. For sandstone reservoir rock, a specially blended fluid containing sand, walnut shells, aluminum pellets (proppants) is pumped down the well and out the perforations. The oil rig is removed from the site after the oil is flowing. Next, the production equipment is set up to extract the oil from the well.

Chris Jent is the Chief Marketing Officer of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Preparing an Oil Drilling Site

Modern oil production is quite different from the way it has been portrayed in the movies. Black crude oil gushing out of the ground is not what typically happens. Technology has made the exploration and drilling of oil a more precise art.

The modern oil exploration methods today include using sensitive gravity meters which indicate the flow of oil, sensitive magnetometers which measure tiny changes in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by flowing oil, sensitive electronic noses called sniffers which detect the smell of hydrocarbons, and seismology which produce shock waves through the hidden rock layers of the Earth. Shock waves are created by a compressed-air gun shooting pulses of air into the water for exploration over water, a thumper truck which slams heavy plates into the ground for exploration over land, and by explosives drilled into the ground for exploration over both land and water.

Once a prospective oil strike is found and the location to drill is selected, the site must be surveyed to determine its boundaries, and environmental impact studies may have to be done. Oil companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation purchase the lease agreements, obtain titles, and evaluate legally right-of-way accesses for the land. For sites on the water, legal jurisdiction must be determined. With the legal issues settled, the oil company’s crew goes about preparing the land.

The land is cleared and leveled, and access roads may have to be built. Because so much water is used in drilling, there must be a source of it close by. If there is no natural source, a water well is drilled. A reserve pit is made, used to dispose of rock cuttings and drilling mud during the drilling process, and it is lined with plastic to protect the environment. If the site is an ecologically sensitive area, such as a marsh or wilderness, then the cuttings and mud must be trucked away instead of placed in the reserve pit.

After the land has been prepared, several holes must be dug to make way for the main hole and rigging structure. A rectangular pit, called a cellar, is dug around the location of the actual drilling hole. The cellar provides space around the hole for the workers and drilling accessories. With a small drill truck, the crew then begins drilling the main hole. The first part of the hole is large and then lined with a large-diameter conductor pipe. To temporarily store equipment, additional holes are dug off to the side. When these holes are done, the rig equipment can be brought in to be set up.
Depending upon the remoteness of the site and the access to it, equipment may be transported by truck, helicopter or barge. Some rigs are built on ships or barges for work on inland water where the land will not to support a rig, as in marshes or on lakes.

Chris Jent is the chief marketing officer of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Demand for Natural Gas Increases

Because the natural gas market is so heavily dependent on the interaction of supply and demand, it is important to have knowledge of the factors that affect these two components of the commodity.

Throughout the twentieth century, natural gas was known as an ‘energy orphan.’ In North America, natural gas was priced as a byproduct until late 1970s. It was banned as an industrial fuel from 1978 to 1989. There was either too little demand or too much supply. In Europe local supplies made gas ‘slightly important’ commodity. In the 1970s, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) was considered a bold experiment for Algeria and Indonesia.

As the cleanest fossil fuel by far, natural gas became known as the most precious energy source. Being extremely efficient, the BTU input to BTU use is 1.1 to 1.0. The big drawback at the time was that it was complex to travel. The pipelines were expensive to construct and they couldn’t go to stranded locations.

The gas demand peaked in 1971/1972 in the United States. It bottomed out in 1985/1986. It finally broke old 1971/1972 record in 2001/2002. It was believed that high gas prices would inevitably destruct the demand for natural gas because of the transportation drawback. This theory proved wrong with U.S. natural gas supply actually peaking in 1973 when daily gas produced was 62 Billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day. Because of the abnormal mild weather between the years 1985 and 2000 the demand growth was dampened. The repeal of banned gas use re-created industrial and electricity feedstock use. By late 1990s, the United States adopted natural gas, as the fuel of choice.

In 2000 the National Petroleum Council (NPC) forecasted the natural gas demand in the United States would increase 36% to approximately 30 TCF by 2010. Half of this predicted growth was created in the electricity demand. The other half was calculated from economy growing by 2.5% per year. It was gathered that gas prices would be kept under $3 through 2015 by improvements made in technology and production efficiency. Many study participants questioned whether the demand could grow this much, but almost no one worried about the supply.

The National Petroleum Council (NPC) forecast was an understated assumption. It predicted 113,000 MW at gas-fired power plants by 2010. The reality is that there were already 220,000 MW gas-fired plants by 2004. The NPC demand was grossly underestimated. The other things overlooked in the assumption were the need for peak capacity, the black-outs or brown-outs that happen, and the weather changes affecting the demand. Bitter cold weather causes demand to rise by 50%. Muggy hot weather causes the electrical demand for air conditioning to rise by 30%. The 60% to 80% of surge now comes from natural gas for this reason.

Taking watch over the increase of demand for natural gas as an energy source, companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation keep their business running efficiently in order to meet this demand.

The Natural Gas Industry Structure

Of the over 8,000 natural gas producers in the United States, there are about two dozen large integrated production companies in the industry termed 'Majors'. From these majors which usually have operations worldwide, producers can range from having interests in all segments of the oil and gas industry all the way to small one or two person operations that may only have partial interest in a single well.

In 2000 the over 580 natural gas processing plants in the United States, at the time, were responsible for processing almost 17 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and extracting over 720 million barrels of natural gas liquids.

About 160 pipeline companies operate over 285,000 miles of pipe in the United States, of which is 180,000 miles of interstate pipelines. This pipeline is capable of transporting over 119 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas per day from the producing regions to the consuming regions.

There are about 415 underground storage facilities in the United States with about 114 natural gas storage operators. The storage capacity of these facilities is 3,923 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas, maintaining an average daily deliverability of 78 billion cubic feet (Bcf). The Energy Industry Association (EIA) keeps a weekly storage survey which monitors the injection and withdrawal of stored natural gas. By measuring the natural gas extracted or stored at any one time in response to the demand, this survey gives a good indication of the status of the natural gas market.

As companies enter and exit from the industry quite frequently, the status of the natural gas market is constantly changing. The volume of non-physical natural gas that passes through the hands of marketers is very large, and can be much greater than the actual physical volume consumed. This is an indication of just how vibrant and transparent the commodity markets are for natural gas. Just for example, in 1998, it was estimated that for every thousand cubic feet of natural gas consumed, about 2.7 thousand cubic feet passed through natural gas marketers.

The natural gas market is similar to other commodity markets in that the prices reflect the ability of the supply meeting the demand at any one time. When the demand for gas is rising, and prices rise accordingly, producers will respond by increasing their exploration and production capabilities. Being one of these producers, Triple Diamond Energy Corporation follows this straightforward economic strategy.

While many distribution companies maintain a monopoly status over their distribution region, many states are currently in the process of changing this by offering consumer choice options with respect to their natural gas distribution. In the United States there are over 1,200 natural gas distribution companies which own over 833,000 miles of distribution pipe.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Natural Gas and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction

A recently issued report done by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) along with a comprehensive study analyzing the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act presented by the Natural Gas Council (NGC) informs the public and the natural gas industry of the projected impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on our economy.

The Natural Gas Council (NGC), composed of the four natural gas industry trade associations, firmly concluded from the modeled study that natural gas will be a critical component in achieving greenhouse gas emission reductions under any climate change legislation. And National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) projected the impact of greenhouse gas reduction policies on our energy markets and economy.

Constraints were placed on the number of nuclear facilities and power plants utilizing renewable fuels that realistically can be built to achieve the emission reductions mandated. A range of possible outcomes that may occur were addressed as the energy economy adjusts to mandatory carbon constraints. The NGC study focused on the findings, insights and lessons learned which can be applicable to other climate change proposals and any Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Legislation that may be introduced.

The analysis yielded insights establishing a comprehensive program for mandatory reductions of Greenhouse Gas emissions in the United States. It was concluded that solutions to achieve GHG emissions reductions are complicated due to many interdependencies and uncertainties. Results are heavily dependent on the features and functionality of legislative provisions. Global demand for offsets could limit availability to purchasers in the United States affecting the price. The number of offsets available will make a very large difference in the outcomes. Economic impacts depend on the success of new technologies and the rate at which they are adopted.

Given the significant emission reductions desired after 2030, it is very important to understand the implications to the economy and society and what solutions may be available to make necessary changes. Companies selling energy commodities like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation must stay aware of the solutions available to comply to the legislative challenges.

Results show the strong possibility that there will be greater reliance on natural gas to achieve the emission reduction targets established for 2020 and 2030. Given the importance of achieving the emissions reduction targets that Congress ultimately may legislate, the natural gas industry would like to explore, at minimum, using natural gas as a bridge fuel for electric generation, until the other technologies for GHG emission reductions can be commercialized and fully deployed.

Oil from Shale

Oil shale is a sedimentary rock rich in kerogen which is a fossil fuel. Kerogen is an immature form of hydrocarbon that has been trapped in the oil shale. Solid oil shale is transformed into synthetic crude oil. Synthetic crude is a liquid fuel that can be refined into diesel and gasoline.

There are hundreds of patents from different companies trying to come up with cost efficient ways to extract the oil from the oil shale. Nothing made sense cost wise until oil started getting up over $70 a barrel. Now with oil hovering above $90 a barrel extracting oil from oil shale is starting to look promising.

Right here in the U.S. is one of the largest potential reserves of oil shale in the world. It lies in the Green River Formation which is an underground lakebed that spans some 17,000 square miles in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. It is said to hold at a minimum 800 billion barrels of oil that can be recovered. A Department of Energy study says that the Formation can sustain two million barrels a day by 2020 and three million a day by 2040.

Shell Oil has developed the most promising technology which they call the In Situ Conversion Process. How it works is this: 1800 foot wells are drilled and then heating rods are inserted in the wells. The heating rods heat the oil shale to 650 degrees Fahrenheit. They surround the wells with freeze walls which keep the oil from escaping into the ground water. The freeze walls are created by piping coolant deep into the ground around the wells. This freezes the rock and water around the drill site. The heat from the heating rods transforms the oil in the shale into oil and natural gas. The natural gas is separated from the oil and then will be used to produce the power to heat the rods. Of course a lot of water and energy is used to extract the oil from the oil shale. Most oil companies, like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation, will generate their own power from the natural gas extracted right at the drilling site. The oil will be piped to a refinery to be converted into gasoline.

Surface mining of oil shale deposits is just like strip mining for coal and has numerous effects on the environment. This new In Situ Conversion process will significantly reduce the damage to the environment caused by extracting oil from oil shale deposits.

Why Oil is Close to $100 Per Barrel

Shock and fear is hitting consumers as winter approaches and oil prices have increased by $25 a barrel over the last ten weeks. What is going on? Why is it happening and can anything be done about it?

The fear of shortages is one reason for the rapid price increases. The Energy Information Administration revealed that oil stocks in the US are much lower than expected, raising fear that there will be a lack of supply over the winter months and have asked OPEC to increase supply.

Political tensions are another factor. America is the world’s largest oil consumer. Political tensions are high with Iran which is the fourth largest producer of oil in the world. The US has accused Iran of backing the Shia militants in Iraq and is threatening to impose sanctions on Iran. This could effect US supply of oil from Iran. There is also threat of supply disruptions from Iraq due to fears of conflicts between Turkey and Kurdish rebels in Northern Iraq. There is also instability, as always, throughout the Middle East which continually offer supply threats.

The weak dollar is having a major effect. The weak housing market and turmoil in the financial markets caused by the subprime mortgage problem and its effect on the economy in the US has pushed the dollar to record lows against the euro and the pound. The dollar is par with the Canadian dollar for the first time in 30 years. Investors are buying more oil in an attempt to hedge their losses from the weak dollar. These weaknesses are expected to be exacerbated by another expected interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve which will put more downward pressure on the dollar. This will drive oil prices even higher and threaten to drive up inflation. Investors are flocking to commodities like oil or precious metals to protect themselves from these threats.

Oil demand is strong which also has a major effect on oil prices. The rapidly growing economies of China and India are increasing their consumption of oil by 10 to 15% per year. China is second behind the US in oil consumption and its demand is growing at close to 15% per year. Demand is expected to increase throughout the world by 2% a year over the next five years.

Can production be increased to help reduce costs? OPEC, which is the world’s largest oil supplier recently raised its production quotas by 500,000 barrels a day. OPEC has stated that they feel the recent price increases are due to geopolitical issues and that there are adequate supplies of oil. This makes it unlikely that they will further increase their production quotas to help ease the price increases. US companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation help alleviate our dependence on foreign oil by finding new sources of domestic oil supply.

All of these factors are exacerbated in the US by the predictions of a major slowdown in the US economy next year which could force us into a recession. It seems that the price of oil is always a factor in times of economic instability. Supply shortages, political tensions, the weak dollar and increased demand seem to be here to stay and enhance the importance of reducing our consumption of oil.

The Costs of Natural Gas and Oil

Most Americans use is either oil or natural gas for energy. A supply and demand imbalance is currently driving up the costs of both oil and natural gas. Americans are demanding more energy and as this demand increases, our supply of oil and natural gas hasn’t increased especially from domestically available resources. Actually, this production is on the decline. It is time to start exploring and tapping new supplies of oil and natural gas here in America.

Oil is a worldwide commodity. Prices are bound to rise worldwide with the increased competition/demand and the present stagnant production. Higher prices are also a result of supply disruption "fears" from potential hot spots in the Middle East, Venezuela, and Russia. Worldwide spare capacity has reduced dramatically from 10 million barrels per day a decade ago to about 2 million barrels per day today.

The natural gas used in the United States is primarily from North American resources. Importing natural gas in a liquefied state from overseas hasn’t yet been fully developed. Natural gas is a preferred fuel choice that powers most new homes and buildings, as well as power plants mainly because it is clean-burning. Inconsistent government policies and regulations have discouraged the exploration and production of new domestic gas supplies. This creates another supply-demand imbalance. Because the increase in natural gas demand isn't being met with new supplies, prices for natural gas rise too.

Some other reasons for the rising costs of natural gas and oil include: weather (cold weather will increase demand), hurricanes (can stop production in the Gulf of Mexico), litigation and regulations, lack of public support and government encouragement for new oil and gas wells, Geopolitical unrest around the world, and market speculation.

The consequences of no new domestic production makes for fluctuation in consumer prices. Some of our factories are moving their businesses overseas to take advantage of cheaper energy costs meaning lost jobs and lost tax and royalty revenue. Today, 63% of our oil is imported today which is a high reliance on foreign countries, taking on a national and economic security risk. Having the supply controlled by other countries, of course, is not ideal. Plus the extremely high national trade deficit (one-third of which is represented in oil imports) has to stop soaring.

The fuel industry needs to re-look at the federal policy recognizing the importance of domestic oil and natural gas. Some suggested changes are: allowing access to non-park, non-wilderness federal lands where abundant, lower cost domestic oil and gas is located, providing for more offshore oil and gas exploration, stopping unnecessary law suits and regulations, providing full federal funding for government agencies that have industry oversight and for oil and gas technology programs to do research, encouraging students to get involved in order to develop a new workforce for the coming years, and offering credits for unconventional resources to be used instead.

Currently, in the United States, there are about 5,000 independent oil and natural gas producers. Independents can be small family companies or publicly traded companies. They operate in 33 states and the offshore. Companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation drill 90 percent of the wells here and produce 68 percent of America's oil and 82 percent of domestic natural gas.

Natural Gas Distribution

The natural gas industry is an extremely important commodity in the energy sector of the U.S. economy. In addition to providing one of the cleanest burning fuels available, it offers constant value and growing commerce to the nation.

Over the past 15 years, the structure of the natural gas industry has changed dramatically. The industry formerly had a simple structure with limited flexibility and few options for delivery. Production companies explored and drilled for natural gas, selling their product at the wellhead to large transportation pipelines. These pipelines transported the natural gas, selling it to local distribution utilities, which sold that gas to its customers. The price for which the producers sold the natural gas to the transportation pipelines and the price for which the pipelines sold the local distribution companies were both federally regulated. Then state regulation monitored the price for which local distribution companies sold natural gas to their customers. The increasing demand for natural gas as a fuel source, new technology, regulation flexibilities, and innovative data monitoring have changed the industry.

Distribution is the final step in delivering natural gas to end users. High capacity interstate and intrastate pipelines deliver directly to the large industrial, commercial, and electrically generated customers. These accounts are usually contracted through natural gas marketing companies. Most other users receive natural gas from a local distribution company (LDC). There are two basic types of local distribution companies: those owned by investors, and public gas systems owned by local state governments.

Local distribution companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corp transport natural gas through small-diameter distribution pipe. Delivery points to LDCs, especially for large municipal areas, are often termed 'citygates'. LDCs usually take ownership of the natural gas at the citygate, then deliver it to each individual customer's location of use. It has been estimated that the extensive network of small-diameter distribution pipe required to deliver natural gas in the United States is over one million miles.

The transportation infrastructure required to move natural gas to many diverse customers across the country to some remote and isolated areas, distribution costs make up the majority of natural gas costs for small volume end users. Distribution companies must deliver relatively small volumes of gas to many more different locations. Large pipelines can reduce unit costs by transmitting large volumes of natural gas, but these infrastructures are utilized around the concentrated metropolitan areas of the country. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), for the typical small volume residential natural gas consumer, distribution costs represent up to 47 percent of the natural gas bill. The actual natural gas commodity represents about 34 percent of residential consumers' bill, and transmission (by large interstate and intrastate pipelines) and storage costs make up about 19 percent.

Other innovations affecting the natural gas industry include the new technology of flexible plastic and corrugated stainless steel tubing in place of rigid steel pipe, new electronic meter-reading systems capable of transmitting data information directly to the local distribution company, new trenching techniques allowing for pipe installation with less impact on the above ground surroundings, and new supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems which assimilate gas flow control and measurement providing a comprehensive accurate report for the LDC. All of these improvements result in cost savings for the LDC, which are passed along to customers.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pipelines are the Nation’s Energy Lifeline

There is a 200,000-mile petroleum pipeline network constantly working to supply us with the products that make our nation tick. America's economy depends on these pipelines to run efficiently, safely and to be reliable. Every day this network delivers us the energy we need to survive. It brings us the gasoline to run our machinery and transportation vehicles, heating oil to make our homes and work places comfortable, and jet fuel to fly both people and products to places all over enabling manufacturing and production to happen in a timely fashion. The primary means of moving crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products to consumer markets are these pipelines. Because most of them are buried underground, and largely unseen, they are safe from harm. They move crude oil from oil fields on land and offshore to refineries where the oil is turned into other fuel products. From the refineries, the oil and fuel products go to terminals where they are trucked to retail outlets. Americans use more than 20 million barrels of oil products each and every day. Pipelines operate constantly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep the essential fuel flowing through this network to consumers.

Safely, cost effectively, and efficiently, this pipeline network delivers us with a commodity that is fundamental to the American way of life. Transported through the pipelines is the energy to fuel our cars, trucks, busses, airplanes, and ships—the vehicles that keep us going. Also through the pipeline network, crude oil is delivered to refineries that convert it into essential material for the core industries producing plastics, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture—the major products necessary to maintain the life style as we know it.

Realizing how important the pipeline network in America is, the petroleum pipeline industry’s safety record remains strong and is constantly improving. Operators are doing a better job steadily of protecting pipelines from corrosion, damage by third parties, weather or natural disasters, and any other harmful circumstances. Government agencies that regulate the pipeline industry include the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (part of the U.S. Department of Transportation), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Regulations have forced a recording of the distribution of energy products through the pipeline network. The specific product is measured at the receipt point in the pipeline and again upon delivery to document the amount of product moved from one point to another. The amount charged to the customer depends on the product, the amount transported, and the distance between the receipt and delivery points. This process is similar to how you ship a package from one place to another. First, a carrier is chosen; the pick up and delivery point are confirmed; the weight is accounted for; and a pre-established fee is paid for the service. Like shipping packages, transporting different batches of petroleum can encounter unexpected delivery changes. However, unlike the package tracking, tracking and measuring pipeline volumes can be real challenges. Companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation accept these challenges as a part of doing business within the energy sector providing such an important commodity.

Natural Gas and the Oracle of Delphi

Most people have heard the term - the Oracle of Delphi. In ancient times Delphi was thought to be the center of the world. To the Greeks it was the place where heaven and earth met. It was the center of worship for the Greek God Apollo who was the son of Zeus.

People would go to the Oracle of Delphi, who was a priestess of the time, to get advice on personal concerns or concerns of the state and to have their questions about the future answered. The Oracle or priestess was thought to dispense advice which came right from God, to have divine or as we think of it today psychic powers.

The temple of the Oracle of Delphi was built on top of Mount Parnassus. The temple was founded when a goat herder came upon a flame rising out of a fissure in a rock. The Greeks thought the flame had a divine origin and built the temple on top of it. The prophecies of the priestess were said to be inspired by the divine nature of the flame. Also, vapors arising out of the fissure were thought to produce intoxication that helped loosen the lips of the oracles.

These myths and prophecies grew around the flame and Delphi is still a favorite tourist attraction in Greece. A recent study of the area below the temple at Delphi show that two faults intersect there and also found evidence that hallucinogenic gases were rising from a spring nearby and were preserved within the rock of the temple. When faults intersect the rock around them are more permeable and water and natural gases can rise out of the rock easier.

The gases in the spring water near the temple were analyzed and it was found that one of the gases was ethylene which has a sweet smell and produces a narcotic effect if inhaled. The Oracle of Delphi was said to go into a trance like state when she would pronounce her prophecies. She would be in a small, enclosed room in the basement of the temple. It’s possible that there was enough ethylene to produce this trance like state.

Companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation drill natural gas which then travels through pipelines to a processing plant that extracts the ethylene.Ethylene is a flammable gas extracted from natural gas and petroleum. Ethylene is extracted using fractional distillation followed by steam cracking followed by liquefaction of the gas and then further fractional. Polyethylene is produced from ethylene. Polyethylene is the world’s most widely used plastic.

Who Regulates Natural Gas and the Effects of Regulation on Prices

Each state has a public utility commission that regulates natural gas utilities. Surprising as it may seem the natural gas utilities aren’t allowed to make any money from the natural gas itself. A natural gas or electric utility bill typically has three main charges: natural gas or electricity used, service fee and delivery charges. The service fee and delivery charges are based on the amount of natural gas or electricity used.

The state utility commissions not only oversee the rates utilities charge but issues related to construction and maintenance of adequate supplies for customers. There are three federal agencies that regulate the natural gas industry as well. They are the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Securities Exhange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. These agencies are the federal overseers of the industry that help ensure that the natural gas markets are not being manipulated.

The fluctuations in the price of natural gas are more related to supply and demand issues than to the individual utility companies increasing their profits. When natural gas prices increase, most people become more frugal in their usage. The natural gas utility actually makes less in this instance because they only make profits on the service fees and delivery charges. When consumers use less natural gas the utility is forced make less in service fees and delivery charges which are based on the volume used.

Many state public utility commissions are exploring the decoupling of rates from amounts used for utilities. Today, with the rates charged tied to the amount used the utility companies have less incentive to be concerned about energy efficiency. Alternative approaches are being discussed to more closely align utility revenue with energy efficiency.

The actual price of natural gas is mainly influenced by supply and demand as in most free markets. Today, in the United States, demand is growing in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors. It is a very efficient fuel source that is much friendlier to the environment than oil.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) issues winter price forecasts once a month during the winter. These estimates are based on a couple factors. First, an estimate of what the average price over the winter will be. Next, a prediction of the weather is made. How cold is it expected to be this winter? Will it be colder or warmer than last year? A percentage increase or decrease is derived from this.

The Increasing Use of Liquefied Natural Gas

When natural gas is cooled at normal pressure to about -260°F, it condenses into a liquid form known as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). LNG takes up about one six hundredth the volume of gaseous natural gas making it very efficient to transport. When it is necessary to transport natural gas energy to stranded or mountainous destinations, shipping it as LNG is much more practical. The absence of a pipeline infrastructure to these areas make direct connection of small gas utilities to the pipeline grid impractical.

Liquefied Natural Gas when vaporized to gaseous form, will burn in concentrations of between only 5 and 15 percent mixed with air. Another advantage is that LNG, or any vapor associated with it, will not explode in an unconfined environment. In the unlikely event of an LNG spill, the natural gas has little chance of igniting an explosion. The process of turning natural gas into a liquid form removes from it, oxygen, carbon dioxide, sulfur, and water, resulting in almost pure methane. LNG is a clean fuel and a safe fuel.

Liquefied Natural Gas is usually transported in specialized tankers with insulated walls. The process of auto refrigeration in these tankers is used in which the LNG is kept at its boiling point, so that any heat additions are countered by the energy lost from LNG vapor that is vented out of storage and used to power the vessel. This is another example of the efficiency of LNG.

LNG storage facilities continue to be important in meeting peak demand needs of local utilities and also provide a more economical way to store gas until it is needed. Several niche markets, such as vehicular fuel and using it as an alternative energy to propane for facilities off the pipeline grid, keep LNG in an increasingly high demand whether its from domestic or foreign sources. Replacing propane or other fuels in certain isolated industrial sites such as mineral extraction and forest product facilities has proven to be effective economically. Growth depends on expansion of current facilities and new construction. The need for additional supply sources to meet projected U.S. demand generally coincides with numerous developments in LNG trade on a worldwide basis.

Although Liquefied Natural Gas currently accounts for a small percent of natural gas used in the United States, it is expected that LNG imports will provide a steady, dependable source of natural gas for U.S. consumption. Domestic natural gas exploration companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation continue to locate new sources of natural gas as well. Since 2001, companies have announced plans for the construction of LNG import facilities to serve U.S. markets. LNG imported to the United States comes via ocean tanker, and receives the majority of its LNG from Trinidad and Tobago, Qatar, and Algeria. Some other shipments arrive from Nigeria, Oman, Australia, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates.

New Natural Gas Pipeline Excavation Laws

Explosions caused by natural gas leaks are rare considering the 1.9 million miles of natural gas distribution pipeline in the United States. When they do happen they are often caused by damage from construction companies excavating a site for new construction or to repair existing construction.

In 2006 Congress passed legislation called the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety Act of 2006. The purpose of the legislation is to prevent excavation damage to natural gas pipelines through the enhanced us and improved enforcement of state One Call laws. One Call laws require excavators to contact the state One Call system prior to excavating to locate the underground pipe. The excavators are also required to report any damage or escape of gas caused by their digging.

The law provides funding and direction for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s pipeline safety oversight programs and new funding to strengthen excavation damage prevention programs.

The Department of Transportation is responsible for enforcing the laws. Civil penalties are assessed. These civil penalties are not only assessed against excavation companies violating the One Call laws but also to any pipeline operator who does not respond to a request for information on a location or does not mark the pipeline location properly.

The new legislation also provides state grants for improvements to the damage prevention programs and for development of new technologies for prevention of excavation damage.

Studies show that natural gas pipelines have been the safest mode of transportation in the United States. The natural gas pipeline companies spend a large amount of their budgets making sure the pipelines run safely. They are constantly doing research and development to improve their infrastructure to increase the safety and reliability of their infrastructure. The new legislation also mandates the installation of excess flow valves on new service lines or on lines that have been entirely replaced that serve single-family homes.

Between 1986 and 2004 the number of accidents reported decreased by 28 per cent. Over 650,000 miles of pipeline were added during this period and the gas moving through the pipelines increased by 33 per cent. Companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation are focused on increasing the domestic supply of natural gas to support the increased demand.

Natural gas provides 25% of the energy used in the U.S. The White House, Pentagon and Capitol building all use natural gas for heating. Natural gas has been delivered via pipeline for over a century in the U.S. The cost of the new regulations to natural gas pipeline companies is significant. First year implementation were estimated to be approximately $0.036 per thousand cubic feet. The increased safety provided by this legislation far outweighs the additional expense incurred. Accidents are far more costly to natural gas pipeline companies than the additional expense of the requirements of the new law.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities

Because it can be stored indefinitely, natural gas is the most readily available of the fossil fuels. The exploration, production, and transportation of natural gas takes time. Often, when natural gas reaches its destination, it is not always needed immediately, so it is stored underground in large storage reservoirs strategically located all over the United States. These storage facilities can be near market centers that do not have a ready supply of locally produced natural gas. In addition to storage underground, natural gas can also be stored in liquid form known as liquefied natural gas or LNG. The advantage of LNG over gaseous natural gas is that it takes up much less space to store and ship.

Stored natural gas can act as insurance if any unforeseen accidents, natural disasters, or unexpected consumer demand surges happen. Traditionally, natural gas has been a seasonal fuel with highest demand during the winter for heat. However, because of advantages natural gas has over other energy sources, its demand has increased to be used for more than just the winter months. Also, stored natural gas ensures that any excess supply delivered during the summer months is available to meet the increased demand of the winter months.

Shortly after World War II, the natural gas industry noted that seasonal demand increases could not be met by pipeline delivery alone. Reaching the increasing demand in the growing consumer regions using the pipelines in existence then was not possible. The size and quantity of pipelines would have to increase dramatically. Making available underground natural gas storage facilities was the answer. These facilities now play an important part in maintaining the supply needed to meet the energy fuel demands of consumers today. To ensure that adequate supplies of natural gas are available for seasonal and any unexpected demand shifts, underground storage is used to serve as a buffer between transportation and distribution.

There are three types of underground storage: depleted reservoirs, aquifers, and salt caverns. Companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation work to maintain all of these types of storage so the demand for power from natural gas can be satisfied. In depleted reservoirs, essentially, natural gas is injected into the formation vessel underground, building up pressure as more natural gas is added, becoming, in a sense, a sort of pressurized natural gas container. The higher the pressure, the more readily gas may be extracted. If the pressure drops to below that of the wellhead, there is no pressure left in order to push the natural gas out of the storage facility. A certain amount of gas may never be extracted known as physically unrecoverable, and this is permanently embedded in the formation underground.

Depleted gas reservoirs are the most common type of natural gas storage. They are the most economical and easiest to develop, operate and maintain. They have already been tapped of their recoverable natural gas and just need to be filled again. From a practical stand point, using an already developed reservoir allows the use of the equipment left behind from when the field was last productive.
The least desirable and most expensive type of natural gas storage is aquifers. They are underground porous, permeable rock formations that act as natural water reservoirs and are usually used in areas without depleted reservoirs which are a better option.

Primarily located along the gulf coast and in the northern states, another form of storage is using salt caverns which are formed out of existing salt deposits. Being much smaller than depleted gas reservoirs and aquifers, salt caverns can't hold enough volume of natural gas to be used as a dependable resource, but work for peak load capacity situations.

All underground natural gas storage facilities should be considered as the consumption of energy increases in our changing world.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Petroleum-based Components Used in Products You Never Realized

Of course, everyone realizes petroleum products are used in the gasoline we fuel our vehicles and in the heating oil we use to keep our homes warm. But did you know petroleum-based components are in medicines, food, plastics, and even in the clothes we wear? Not only is petroleum a source for fuel, but it has many other uses.

Petrolatum or better known as petroleum jelly is sometimes blended with paraffin wax and used in medicines and in many toiletries and healing moisturizers. Paints, lacquers, and printing inks all have within them petroleum-based solvents to make them flow better. Besides your automobile engine, all machinery, like the engine in your lawn mower, need lubricating oils and grease made from petroleum to keep them running smoothly. Petroleum (or paraffin) wax is used in packaging, candles, matches, shoe polish, and even candy making. Asphalt we use
to pave our driveways, roads and airfields is a byproduct of petroleum. Asphalt also is used to surface canals, dams, and reservoirs. We can find this in the linoleum we cover our floors with and in the shingles we put on our roofs.

Petroleum coke is used as a raw material for many carbon and graphite products. These products include furnace electrodes and liners and the anodes used in the production of aluminum. Aluminum is used in the construction of just about all of our everyday appliances.

Since the 1920's, petroleum has been used as a feedstock in the production of petrochemicals. A liquid obtained from the refining of crude oil called naphtha is one of the basic feedstocks, Petrochemical feedstocks also include products recovered from natural gas, and refinery gases (ethane, propane, and butane). Petrochemical feedstocks are converted to basic chemical building blocks and intermediates, such as ethylene, propylene, normal- and iso-butylenes, butadiene, and aromatics such as benzene, toluene, and xylene.

All these chemicals are in turn used to produce plastics found in our everyday objects, synthetic rubber used to make things more pliable and stretchy, synthetic fibers found our clothing to make them more comfortable, drugs to help us fight diseases, and detergents to make our cleaning process easier.

There are three major categories for petroleum-based products:
fuels such as gasoline and diesel fuel,
non-fuel products such as solvents and lubricating oils, and
feedstocks such as naphtha. Petroleum-based products, especially motor gasoline, distillate (diesel) fuel, and jet fuel, provide virtually all of the energy consumed in the transportation sector. Transportation remains the greatest single use of petroleum. The industrial sector is the second largest petroleum consumption, and the residential/commercial including the electric utility sectors account for the remaining petroleum consumption. Because we depend on oil and petroleum–based products so greatly, companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation, concentrate their efforts in continuing to provide it and making it readily available.

The Natural Gas Advantage for Your Home

Consider some of the good reasons why you should choose natural gas appliances and amenities for your home. Certainly, you want your home to be a safe environment where your family can relax and feel comfortable. With natural gas you'll find convenience and value for your energy dollar with more years of dependable service. Gas surpasses electricity on performance. It is also more cost-efficient. Being the cleanest source of energy obtained from fossil fuels, it helps promote a healthy environment adding no harmful emissions to the air. Listed below are the many uses of natural gas in the home along with their specific advantages

Natural gas for heating

Homes heated with natural gas all feel warm, comfortable, and draft-free. Even in the coldest weather, you can rely on a natural gas furnace while electric heat pumps may fail to adequately deliver heat. A gas furnace delivers air from the vent at about 130° F, while an electric heat pump needs to be as much as 40 degrees hotter. Over 70% of all new homes built currently use natural gas as the main central heating system. Gas furnaces bring a steady flow of warm air faster using less energy. The life of a gas furnace is usually double that of an electric heat pump. The pilot-less ignition and regulated zone heating can also save money on your heating bill.

Natural gas water heater

Heating water is the second largest energy user in the home. Waiting too long for hot water or, worse yet, running out of hot water too soon can be prevented by using a natural gas water heater. Whether you are showering or washing dishes, you want hot water fast and plenty of it. Gas flames provide instant heat, and today’s gas water heaters are even more efficient than older models. Using a natural gas water heater enables you and your family to enjoy long, relaxing hot showers.

Gas range top cooking

With a gas flame there's no waiting for the burner to warm up or cool down. Contrary to an electric range, the cooking stops as soon as you turn off a gas burner. Cooking time is easily controlled on a gas range because it responds instantly to your touch. Foods can cook faster and more evenly. The pilot-less ignition of newer models eliminates the need for a standing pilot light. The flame burns only when the gas is turned on, cutting your gas usage by about one third so you can enjoy great food in less time. Nowadays, saving time is a great advantage.

Your clothes get dry faster with a gas dryer

Gas dryers outperform electric ones by more than a three to one ratio. Gas clothes dryers can provide significant cost savings without sacrificing performance features. Better temperature control from the natural gas flame allows your clothes to dry faster and more evenly. No more going to the dryer to find some clothes partially dry or even still wet. Features like pilot-less ignition, sensor controls, automatic cooling-down cycles and shut-offs, plus optional shorter cycles for de-wrinkling are all designed for better efficiency saving you money.

Natural gas fireplaces verses wood-burning fireplaces

Fireplaces burning wood can cause chimney fires, ashes and sparks. Clean-up is necessary and sparks can potentially harm children, pets, and/or furnishings. Just a flick of a switch can provide fuel-efficient, fuss-free flames from today’s gas logs and fireplace inserts. There is no need to buy wood and never mind about hauling and storing it. Enjoy a cozy fire instantly without dealing with the mess of a wood-burning fireplace. Gas fireplaces also offer the benefits of both radiant and convective heat.

Gaslights operate even during power outages

When a power outage happens, standard electrical lights go out, but the comforting glow from gaslights endures. Unlike electric lights, gaslights don't attract insects. Gaslights add security and a warm welcome to entryways, driveways, patios, and decks near pool and garden areas.

Enjoy smoky, barbecue flavored food without the mess of charcoal or propane

There is no propane tank to fill, nor the wait for charcoal to heat up. Natural gas controls are right at your fingertips. Cooking outdoors can be safe, convenient, and reliable with natural gas barbecues. Natural gas flames can be fine-tuned with precision— something difficult to regulate with other barbecues. Another advantage to barbecuing with natural gas is that gas grills are easy to clean and virtually maintenance free.

Gas heaters for the pool, spa and patio areas

Natural gas patio and swimming pool heaters let you enjoy these areas more months out of the year. When warmed by natural gas, water temperatures in a spa or pool stay consistently comfortable. Patio heaters (available in an array of different models) can be used even in exposed outdoor areas. Natural gas patio heaters can keep you comfortably warm air for up to a 20-foot circular area.

Understanding the advantages of natural gas for your home makes the decision for using it easy. It is the choice for many new homes. Natural gas is stored at facilities managed by companies like, Triple Diamond Energy, which make sure to meet the seasonal demands as they increase. The energy is provided as needed without supply disruptions. Natural gas is stored underground in large reservoirs easily accessed through pipeline systems.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Natural Gas, the Clean Fossil Fuel

Of the fossil fuels, natural gas is the cleanest source of energy to use for many of our every day needs and activities. It plays an important part in reducing pollution so that a clean and healthy environment can be maintained. Because of its almost perfect combustion process, very few byproducts are emitted into the atmosphere as pollutants. The environmentally friendly attributes of natural gas reduce air pollution.

Composed primarily of methane, the main products of the combustion of natural gas are carbon dioxide and water vapor which are the same compounds we exhale when we breathe. Unlike other fossil fuels, the combustion of natural gas releases very small amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, virtually no ash or particulate matter, and low levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other reactive hydrocarbons.

Transportation vehicles such as automobiles, trucks, and buses contribute greatly to the air pollution in the United States. This kind of air pollution makes for low visibility, smog, and various greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), more than 80 percent of air pollution in cities is produced by transportation vehicles. Natural gas can be used to cut down on these high levels of pollution from gasoline and diesel powered cars, trucks, and buses. According to the EPA, vehicles operating on compressed natural gas have reductions in carbon monoxide emissions of up to 97 percent and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions of 25 percent. Nitrogen oxide emissions, and other non-methane hydrocarbon emissions could all be reduced drastically. Because of the relatively simple makeup of natural gas, there are fewer toxic and carcinogenic emissions from vehicles running on natural gas.

The natural gas industry is committed to ensuring that the process of producing natural gas is as environmentally clean as possible. Switching to natural gas eliminates the threat of oil spills, oil contamination and environmental clean up. Because natural gas burns so cleanly, no unpleasant odors, soot, or ashes are left behind. Natural gas is non-toxic, not poisonous or harmful to humans.

Other advantages of choosing clean natural gas as an energy source are that it is convenient, efficient, and economical. Natural gas is brought directly to the customer’s home through safe, efficient pipeline systems throughout the country developed and set up by companies like Triple Diamond Energy Corporation. There is an abundant supply of domestic natural gas making it not necessary to depend on an energy source supply susceptible to international events. Furthermore, natural gas is reliable in that the pipeline systems are not easily damaged or affected by changing weather conditions.