On the empty platitudes of the anti-pipeline advocates

The prose reflect careful prior thought and research without platitudes, very coll and thank you.

A Chemist in Langley

This week was a busy one in the Energy East pipeline debate with Denis Coderre and his merry band of municipal politicians stepping out of their jurisdictional depth to come out against the pipeline and our Prime Minister saying he will be a referee in a process where he ultimately has to be the decision-maker. I’ve written several posts on the subject (“A Chemist in Langley’s take on Energy East” and “Debunking more Myths and Fables about the Energy East Pipeline” and a short-take at the Huffington Post I Support The Energy East Pipeline As A Pragmatic Environmentalist). As well this week comedian Rick Mercer had his say on the topic in his weekly rant. All week I have been reading criticisms of both my writing and Mr. Mercer’s rant. The most popular response to Rick Mercer’s rant was a counter-rant by another comedian…

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A response: Alberta Refinery v Strategic Planning

Alberta Refinery v Strategic Planning

Darryl et al (on LinkedIn),

Now we have a conversation going. What started as an idea about a refinery in Alberta is evolving into a discussion of significant importance to Alberta/Canada and for Albertans/Canadians, namely, a Strategic Future Energy Plan compatible with economic aspirations and climate concerns. 

Let’s get back to the Alberta refinery idea to start. Historical strategic thinking over many decades has served to turn Canada, in particular Western Canada, into a raw materials and commodities exporter. It is well understood now that this strategy, born in board rooms, served the corporate bottom line and political pundits first before much else.  

In the current socio-economic climate, much voice is being given to ideas like an Alberta refinery motivated by the recognition that exporting raw materials is akin to exporting jobs and economic prosperity. Market diversification away from a single (USA) customer base by way of pipelines to the coasts for marine export is also a hot topic, as is Energy East. 

Over time, some have advocated for a TransCanada (coast to coast) trunk-line much in the vein of the TransCanada railroad built in the late 1880’s to unite Canada. In this case, the trunk-line would have several multi-directional pipelines in a single trench set with input and output headers strategically placed to afford Canada the flexibility to ship energy and fluids in any direction as markets and technologies evolved. 

A decade or two ago, this concept made huge strategic sense for the country as whole as well as its various constituents. The question as to whether a concept like this is viable in a broader current 2015/16 strategic view within context of the technological change coming to the energy and water industries over the next 15 years to 2030 merits both dialogue and study.  

Certainly the technologies and capability to develop the technologies to build a multi-purpose, hyper-smart and secure trunk-line system with negligible environmental impact are now, more than ever, at our disposal. 

Since my (part time) time return to Canada in the past few years after a life abroad, I have been advocating for not only refining in Alberta, but deploying massive technological change to the refining processes such that diverse carbon neutral energy inputs are used to power the process, refining capacity is flexible and reasonably mobile, water is fully recycled and most importantly, that carbon capture including re-use/re-purpose is part of the refining process. 

Building up startup exploration and production (E&P) oil and gas (O&G) companies around the world forces one to innovate and think strategically. As the former soviet union broke up, some of us went east, it turned out to be the wild wild east with a whole set of unique challenges, not least of which, the overall strategic challenge of making stable and sustainable markets for the product(s). 

While the London boardrooms preferred the traditional model exporting product abroad for hard currency, to succeed over time, market and product diversity were required right from the start, far from easy. Disrupting traditional models and innovating into vertically integrated O&G companies exporting raw product as well as distributing refined product to local and regional markets contributed to sustainable success. 

Success, dependent upon strategic thinking and innovation, was also contingent upon environmental performance. 

As the iron curtain fell, the true nature of the soviet era environmental performance with regard to oil and gas (O&G) exploration and production came to light, Canadian oil extraction of the era looked downright pristine by comparison. Had these new western joint and sole ventures adopted the same environmental practices and policies as soviet era companies, no success would have been realized. Taking leadership positions up front and following through with a ‘zero discharge’ policy won over hearts and minds of even those most opposed to western companies operating in their back yards. 

A ‘zero discharge’ aspiration of the early ‘90s might equate to a ‘carbon neutral’ aspiration of today and the inevitable ‘carbon zero’ aspiration within a decade in socio-technological terms and capability. 

The venerable Peter Lougheed came out in support of the notion that Alberta needs to be refining its crude and exporting refined product. A decade or more ago, building an Alberta refinery (of undetermined scale and technology) made strong strategic sense both short and medium term. Alberta’s job situation and economic prosperity might look decidedly different today, not to mention pump prices. 

2015 is closing out with many Canadians either distraught or hopeful. New governments in, old ones out. Circa 100,000 jobs in the O&G sector gone, most relegated to history. Royalty reviews, climate change policy review and carbon capture X-Prizes are water cooler and LinkedIn topics while many voices are speaking to near term job and prosperity solutions like refineries and east west pipelines.  

Other voices including Darryl are calling for a strategic forward plan. 

As a passionate student of the future including the future of energy and now relocating to Alberta, I share interest in a strategic plan for not only Alberta but Canada. Around the world, Canadians are generally well known for their ‘Candoo’ philosophy and attitude. If we really want an east west trunk-line and/or a state of the art high tech refinery in Alberta, we ‘Candoo’ it. Clearly. 

The question now at hand is whether we ‘Candoo’ strategic thinking. Can we look out to 2030 and beyond to develop a leadership plan, commencing in 2105/2016, that seeks to ensure Canada’s future economic and climatic prosperity as carbon based energy loses its global strategic influence and market space to lo-carbon energy. 

Can we we strategically innovate and evolve from a struggling but highly capable and resourced raw material exporter of today into Diversified Energy and Water powerhouse of tomorrow? 

Candoo ! 

[Referencing earlier comments to this discussion, a caveat: Very rarely and occasionally does the leadership and vision required to ‘Candoo’ arise out out of the confines of the halls of government or boardrooms. More commonly it is ‘we the people’ in the back alleys and garages that start shit happening.] 

The ‘Oilpro Time Machine’ File

The ‘Oilpro Time Machine’ File

A file from ‘The Roughneck Files: Exploring Energy & Water circa 2030 (E&W~2030)’

          If in 2030 one were asked to reflect on the state of the energy & water industry in 2015, they would deem it fragmented and segmented. Whilst it sat in that broken state, one would add that the prime mover, Oil & Gas, was in transition, and incumbent Low Carbon Energy was gaining traction, market share, as well as friendly media coverage.

          An exploration into the 15 year future of constituent industries of the energy and water sector in an era of unprecedented innovation and disruptive change must be done through as many lenses as possible; the establishment, the vested, the aspiring, the ambivalent, the opposed, as well as students of future innovation, technology, and market share trends.

          These are The Roughneck Files…….

 The ‘Oilpro Time Machine File’

          On 11.Aug.02015 The Roughneck Files : Exploring Energy & Water circa 2030 (E&W~2030) published a collaborative ‘should-be’ millennial view of the energy & water industries circa 2030 and what mind set might be required to get there entitled ‘The Great Crew Change OS3’. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/great-crew-change-os3-dave-davies?trk=prof-post

On 12.Aug.02015, Oilpro published their headline article ‘A Retrospective View Of A Restructured Energy Industry’ by esteemed industry writer Allen Brooks. Mr. Brooks opens the discussion with a time travel metaphor.

         The really spectacular peculiarity of time travel is that the traveller’s experience is generally seen through the same lens used to experience history and the present day. The potentiality of the future is often muted by the filters of the past and present. That is generally referred to as linear thinking.

This enjoyable, as well as extremely well researched and written article clearly demonstrates thinking beyond just a linear lens. The scenarios presented are imaginable and consistent with industry precedent, however they struggle to support the initial posit of $95 bbl oil in 2025.

As a seasoned and worldly roughneck of similar years to the author and lifelong student of technological innovation, disruption and trends, I wonder if there are just a few too many historical lens filters in play. Furthermore, a US-centric filter on this time machine might not account for the scale of global exponential change due to occur between now and 2025 nor their impact upon the prognosed consolidation scenarios.

This article fails to mention the inexorably growing link between water and energy, nor whether the Canadian Oilsands will evolve from its loss making raw material export to a profitable refined product export. Each of these factors alter the time machine lens significantly, particularly when projecting future oil prices and the state of the industry(s). Glass reflects, whereas a lens looks through and into future opportunity, it seems as though Mr. Brooks has a few shards of glass interrupting the time machine vision.

If history has taught us anything, it is two fold:

  • Predictions of the future, unless radically forward (exponential) thinking, are generally proven short sited;
  • We pretty much envision and make our own future.

This article paints a view of the future energy in 2025 through a (possibly narrow) lens of a studied seasoned professional albeit with evidence of progressive thinking uncommon to the establishment. The author’s years, opinion and rhetoric put him squarely in the ‘legacy of the Great Crew Change’ conversation.

A recommended read: http://oilpro.com/post/17441/retrospective-view-restructured-energy-industry?utm_source=DailyNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_term=2015-08-11&utm_content=Feature_1_img

….The Roughneck Files: E&W~2030….12.08.2015


NIST: Reducing the High Costs of Hydrogen (Fuel) Pipelines

NIST 580303_10152072709285365_1905986131_nThe National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has put firm numbers on the high costs of installing pipelines to transport hydrogen fuel–and also found a way to reduce those costs.

Samples of pipeline steel instrumented for fatigue testing in a pressurized hydrogen chamber (the vertical tube). NIST researchers used data from such tests to develop a model for hydrogen effects on pipeline lifetime, to support a federal effort to reduce overall costs of hydrogen fuel. (Image: NIST)
Pipelines to carry hydrogen cost more than other gas pipelines because of the measures required to combat the damage hydrogen does to steel’s mechanical properties over time. NIST researchers calculated that hydrogen-specific steel pipelines can cost as much as 68 percent more than natural gas pipelines, depending on pipe diameter and operating pressure.* By contrast, a widely used cost model** suggests a cost penalty of only about 10 percent.>Samples of pipeline steel instrumented for fatigue testingBut the good…

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Graphene-perovskite hybrids make new super-detectors: Turning Light into Energy

Graphene Perovskite 081115 324x182EPFL scientists have created the first perovskite nanowire-graphene hybrid phototransistors. Even at room temperature, the devices are highly sensitive to light, making them outstanding photodetectors.

The lead-containing perovskite materials can turn light into electricity with high efficiency, which is why they have revolutionized solar cell technologies. On the other hand, graphene is known for its super-strength as well as its excellent electrical conductivity. Combining the two materials, EPFL scientists have created the first ever class of hybrid transistors that turn light into electricity with high sensitivity and at room temperature. The work is published in Small.

The lab of László Forró at EPFL, where the chemical activity is led by Endre Horváth, used its expertise in microengineering to create nanowires of the perovskite methylammonium lead iodide. This highly non-trivial route for the synthesis of nanowires was developed by him in 2014 and called slip-coating method. The advantage of nanowires is…

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Rigorous Futures: Training Course at WFS 2015

Sounds interesting !

Pre-Conference Foresight Training at the World Future Society 2015 Conference

Dr. Richard Lum and Dr. Wendy Schultz will be running a pre-conference training course in “Rigorous Futures” on Thursday, July 23 in San Francisco at the annual World Future Society conference.  Participants in the special course will be learning to harness logic, creativity, systems thinking, and intuition in exploring the futures.

Attendees will also get to preview some of the practices featured in Dr. Lum’s forthcoming book, 4 Steps to the Future: A Workbook for Creating Foresight.

Duration: 7 hours (9:15 – 12:15; 1:00 – 5:00)

Sponsors: Vision Foresight Strategy and Infinite Futures

Faculty: Dr Richard Lum and Dr Wendy Schultz

Pre-readings and course materials will be available online in advance to registered participants.

Learning objectives: Gain a firm understanding of the basic components of foresight and learn how to integrate multiple futures methods…

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A personal genome (dna),story

A personal genome (dna) story

A few years back I had my genome done by http://www.23andme.com. I am curious about most things and look for supporting empirical evidence just because, so it was a no brainer for me. 

The quantity and quality of the data that came back was both revealing and impressive to be sure. Ancestry, which is of course fun, as well as traits, health risks and drug responses feature as categories for the data. 

What really caught my attention initially was inherited conditions. Of the 50+ bad ones currently tracked by 23andme, no markers in my dna, however I am a carrier for hemochromatosis, an blood iron condition. 

Boom, daughters getting their dna done, mom and a few others as well. Relief, both daughters are condition free but carriers as well. 

I have been having fun with my dna for a good while, an example, I have: 

  • 3.0% Neanderthal in my dna; 
  • 12.6% chance of getting Alzheimer’s; 
  • a marker giving higher than average odds of living to a hundred or more; 

So, half wild and crazy, I am going to be around here for a while!

Recently, our (the girl from Ipanema and myself) oldest daughter developed multiple breast lumps and other conditions simultaneously. 

Dads do what dads do. While on the plane scouring dear daughter’s dna, her mother’s dna and my mother’s dna on the iPad for information for the the doctors, a feeling of confidence came over me. The doctors concurred, the tests became more specific and dear daughter has an encouraging prognosis. 

Words do not do justice to watching the radiant faces of one’s daughter and partner emerging from breast cancer test results. Gratitude to 23andme, doctors, daughter and partner! 

A little caveat here. The type of dna testing done at 23andme is entry level at an entry level price of around $200. Further more detailed and complete genetic testing, if required, would be closer to $1000 per. As with anything digital such as dna, the price performance decreases exponentiallyMas per Moore’s Law. It will get cheaper soon. By 2025: $10 all in. 

A parting thought: 

Maternal Line = U4a1, Paternal Line = R1b1b2a1a2f* 

Which means: 

…..out of africa…..a long sojourn in western europe…..a couple of decades in north america…..almost 4 decades exploring the world………..space next….

Yes, the tinker (gypsy) gene is in my dna. 

So anyway, a personal dna story seasoned old roughneck                                                            ‘ddps1.31.05.02015