Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oil Rises Above $80 a barrel.

On Monday, the price of a barrel of oil reached above $80 in New York. The cause was a combination of fears over supply as a strike hit the French oil industry and the vexed issue of uranium enrichment in Iran, which is alleged to be in the intention of making nuclear weapons. The United States affirms that the intention of Iran to build two new uranium enrichment plants is "further evidence" that it does not wish to "engage" with the international community. The issue of uranium enrichment by Iran has been simmering for some time and will not go away.

The Iranians deny that they aim to build nuclear weapons but only to enrich the uranium sufficiently to generate nuclear power. Naturally occurring uranium contains 0.7 % uranium-235 which must be increased (enriched) to around 3.5 % for use as a nuclear fuel. What is left is "depleted uranium" which finds application in making heavy armour-piercing shells and tanks. The enrichment is done using a centrifuge which separates the lighter 235-UF6 from the heavier 238-UF6 in uranium hexafluoride gas. To make a nuclear weapon, the enrichment must be carried on until the uranium-235 concentration reaches nearer 90 %, which is a far more exacting process.

In view of what has happened in Iraq, i.e. a war and 30 year contracts being awarded to western companies to exploit its oil, it may prove significant that Iran has large deposits of oil and natural gas. A newly discovered gas-field in Iran is thought to contain 12.4 trillion cubic feet of gas plus 249 million tonnes of condensate, together worth an estimated $85 billion. Iran also has a similar quantity of oil to Iraq as has been estimated at 138 billion barrels. As an energy target, Iran appears an attractive prospect.

Related Reading.
(1) "Oil rises above $80 a barrel on French strike, Iran tensions." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/oilprices/7295010/Oil-rises-above-80-a-barrel-on-French-strike-Iran-tensions.html
(2) "Iran discovers $85 billion oil and gas reserves." http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=271256

2 comments:

James Bromfield said...

My friend

Nettles grow in 3 months, have a complete nutritional profile and can be made into various foods, fertilisers and clothing products.

The same is true for hemp, but better. If we can get 500 gallons of biodiesel from an acre of hemp, then we need to use a third of our land mass in the uk to grow it all. harvesting, processing etc builds the new economy, which is self sufficient.

Lets move to the next level

All the best

James

energybalance said...

Hello James,

In principle if we can "grow" our fuel, that averts many of the problems associated with the depletion/rising price of crude oil.

Let's take a look at the numbers:

500 gallons/acre is 4,750 litres/hectare.

The UK land "area" is around 250,000 km^2, so if we used one third of that, we could grow, 83,000 x 100 (ha/km^2) x 4,750 = 3.94 x 10^10 litres = 3.35 x 10^10 kg = 33.5 million tonnes. This is about half the nation's annual fuel budget.

Presumably we should keep the 60,000 km^2 of arable land to grow food. I believe there are 160,000 km^2 in farm holdings, in total, including land for grazing.

I like the idea. Of course, the level of processing etc. to turn all that hemp into fuel would be stupendous. That said, on a smaller transportation level, in a rather more localised society, the idea offers much promise.

I find what you say about the nutritional value of nettles very interesting, and indeed that other products can be made from them.

Regards,

Chris.