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American Automobile Fuel Consumption Debate

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Tom

Anup, it is pretty cool to see the conversation about carbon dioxide capture and storage slowly move forward.

I have a couple of comments on the Oil Drum discussion. The first two are technical, the final comment is more philosophical.

First, nitpicking, on the back-of-the-envelope calculation Dave forgot to move the decimal place on the percent reduction – he calculates a 68% reduction in CO2 emissions per unit of oil removed but writes it as 0.68% - the mistype doesn't change his discussion but the number is at the core of his argument.

Second, on the emissions reduction point, Dave says that his calculation of a 68% percent reduction in CO2 emitted per unit (30 million Mt sequestered/43.8 million Mt emitted) supports the DOE case study claim that "that CO2 production at end use will be two-thirds that of oil produced in a conventional fashion." BUT two-thirds of CO2 produced from conventional oil is a one-third reduction in emissions. Unless I am reading this wrong, DOE is not claiming a 68% reduction in emissions per unit oil – they are claiming a 33% reduction in emissions per unit oil. Again, this doesn't change the final argument – Dave was calling 68% small.

This leads into my final point – a philosophical one that is not intended to refute any of Dave's post, just emphasize a different angle. As Dave points out at the beginning of his post, EOR has been happening since 1972. We have been pumping CO2 underground to get extra oil for over 30 years. I don't think the option to leave this oil in the ground is a true option. It makes economic sense (with the skewed economics of domestic oil production) to pump CO2 underground to get oil. EOR happens in the absense of a CO2 tax. What does not happen without DOE funding and the threat of CO2 regulation is storage and monitoring of CO2. That is what makes this program interesting. I think that EOR with CCS is an attractive starting point for the concepts of CCS. It is the low hanging fruit. Projects like Weyburn allow us to better understand monitoring and injection. They allow us to better understand geologic traps and CO2 movement. They contribute to the broader public conversation. Other projects, like the Frio Brine project in Texas where CO2 is being pumped into a brine aquifer, will be easier to explain after the success of projects like Weyburn.

Yes, we need to move forward with efficiency programs and alternative energy sources. Yes, we need a carbon cap or a carbon tax. EOR with CCS should not stop or slow those actions. But I don't think we should fear that CCS is going to stop or slow those actions. Slowing worldwide CO2 emissions is going to take everything we have.

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