Woodside Mission To Pluto Launched  

Posted by Big Gav in , , , , , ,

Woodside has managed to get their Pluto LNG project kicked off in record time, with development costs already looking much higher than originally anticipated due to labour and equipment shortages. The LNG train(s) will be at the Burrup (presumably close to the North West Shelf facility) and there is speculation that both the Gorgon and Browse developments may end up linking into this plant (though the Gorgon people are still resisting the idea).

More at egoli, The Age, Bloomberg, The West Australian, and Oil Voice.

WOODSIDE Petroleum has committed itself to building one of the most expensive developments in the history of the Australian resources sector after its board gave the go-ahead for its $12 billion Pluto liquefied natural gas project on Friday. The final capital cost figure - on par with the original North-West Shelf development in the 1980s - was significantly higher than Woodside's earlier estimate of $6 billion to $10 million. "The costs are an eye-opener," Woodside chief executive Don Voelte admitted.

Woodside will initially build one production train based on a resource of 5 trillion cubic feet of gas in its Pluto and Xena fields. But it eventually plans to build up to two more trains and possibly a domestic gas facility to help improve the project's returns.

Some analysts questioned whether the first train would deliver a high return on the huge investment, but Mr Voelte said: "I don't spend $11 billion unless I get a damn good return on it." He was referring to the $11.2 billion investment announced on Friday in addition to $800 million that has already been spent on the project. Mr Voelte attributed the capital cost rise to a shortage of skilled labour and the rising cost of offshore equipment.

The first train will produce 4.3 million tonnes a year starting in late 2010, although it has a capacity to produce up to 4.8 million tonnes. Up to 3.75 million tonnes a year have already been contracted to Tokyo Gas and Kansai Electric on 15-year sales agreements. Mr Voelte said the remaining gas might be sold on the spot market. "We're already getting people knocking on our doors," he said. "Although we don't plan to sell [the uncontracted gas] beforehand, you never know what happens in this crazy world."

Woodside noted the proximity of other uncommercialised gasfields in the same region offshore Western Australia. The company plans to operate its onshore plant as an open-access facility for Woodside and third-party gas.

IAG Asset Management portfolio manager Alan Martin said Pluto could be another North-West Shelf in the making. "They're not going to stop with just this one phase," he said. "You can be assured of that. There's a lot of gas in adjacent blocks that needs a processing centre."

Mr Voelte said there was also potential for Woodside to make more discoveries on its own exploration blocks adjacent to the Pluto and Xena fields. "Pluto opens up a whole suite of opportunities out there," he said. He added Woodside was still conducting earlier-stage work on its other LNG projects, including Browse and Sunrise.

TreeHugger has a post on a huge new magnetic levitation wind turbine being touted by an Arizona company that can potentially generate one gigawatt of power at low cost.
It's a vision of a magnetically levitated wind turbine that can generate one gigawatt of energy (enough to power 750,000 homes). This is the device proposed by a new Arizona-based company, MagLev Wind Turbine Technologies. The company claims that it can deliver clean power for less than cent per kilowatt hour using this wind turbine.

Magnetic levitation is a very efficient method of capturing wind energy. The blades of the turbine are suspended on a cushion of air, and the energy is directed to linear generators with minimal fiction losses. But the big advantage with maglev is that it reduces maintenance costs, and increases the lifespan of the generator.

The company also points out that building a single huge turbine like this reduces construction and maintenance costs, and it requires less land space than hundreds of conventional turbines. The company is headed by Ed Mazur, a researcher of variable renewable energy sources since 1981 and inventor of the magnetic levitation wind turbine.

China already has Maglev wind turbines in operation, see: The World's First "Magnetic Levitation" Wind Turbines Unveiled in China.

This article by WorldChanging goes into the technical details of using maglev in wind turbines.

Over at TOD, commenter Step Back made an interesting comment about my review of Children Of Men, noting that the movie had a Christmas release and there is a religious aspect I'd overlooked - which is blindingly obvious in retrospect, although I guess its unsurprising an atheist like me watching well out of the Christmas season wouldn't notice it. COM is a nativity tale...

The Guardian has a post on some very low impact English hobbit style dwellings called "The green green grass of home".
Nearly 10 years ago, Tony Wrench stretched a rubber pond lining over a circle of timber posts and made himself a round home. By a field full of meadowsweet in a peaceful Welsh valley, Wrench and his partner, Jane Faith, live as unobtrusively as humanly possible. Were it not for a lazy trail of wood smoke, you could walk past the Roundhouse and not realise it was there.

And, as luck would have it, the 30ft diameter hobbit-style home has found itself in the midst of a radical experiment: last year Pembrokeshire county council and the Pembrokeshire Coast national park authority agreed to grant planning permission for low-impact developments (LIDs) in the council area - and even in the national park - if they met stringent criteria. It is an unusual policy that could encourage other planning authorities across Britain to rethink sustainable development: after all, these homes are affordable, carbon-neutral and can be built on green fields without environmental degradation.

But the pioneers of zero-carbon living have long been derided as hippies and denied legitimacy by the planning system, from the celebrated Tinker's Bubble in Somerset to Steward Wood in Devon. Wrench is typical, forced to fight his eviction from the moment council officers spotted the glint of his bus-window skylight during an aerial inspection. "An unsightly and incongruous appearance," sniffed the first inspector to clap eyes on the Roundhouse. And to Wrench's dismay, in the new policy's first test, his retrospective application for the Roundhouse was rejected last week.

Grapes are trained over the eaves of the green roof of his home, built on neglected farmland owned by a friend at Brithdir Mawr. Freshly dug potatoes sit in a bucket by the door and, after nearly 10 years, the bracken still sprouts through the kitchen's earth floor every spring. Three small solar panels and a tiny wind turbine provide power. Sometimes Wrench has to choose between his laptop or a lightbulb, but it is not a life of deprivation. ...

The CSM has a "smart grids" style story about the need to introduce smart metering to help reduce (and shift) power consumption - "Juicing down for global warming".
Many power utilities are gearing up to install "smart" meters in kitchens or living rooms to show customers the cost of their electricity use – per minute and perhaps per appliance. During times of peak usage, utilities may even remotely adjust your home thermostat.

Having an instant electric bill on the wall, with dollar signs rolling like a gasoline pump, is designed to create sticker shock – and then, perhaps, a conservation ethic to help curb climate change. People might cut back their use of power-hungry devices, from clothes dryers to the TV "sleep mode." They might, for instance, turn on dishwashers only after 10 p.m.

Some utilities hope to install "intelligent sockets" that communicate between appliances and the electricity provider. On hot summer days, when electric rates would be raised through "dynamic pricing," those customers who voluntarily give up control of their usage – and it would have be voluntary – would be given rebates.

But can such watt-saving steps help save the planet? Yes, if they keep utilities from building more carbon-spewing power plants – especially the expensive kind that rev up only during peak hours. By many estimates, fossil-fuel power plants are likely to be the preferred source of electricity for years to come.

As it is, utilities can't keep up with rising demand. One projection shows a 19 percent rise in peak-time electricity usage over the next decade while only a 6 percent growth in power capacity.

Something's got to give. And it may be consumer lifestyles.

A three-year experiment in California with 2,500 customers showed they reduced their average electricity demand by 13 percent during peak summer hours when they had to pay five times the normal cost. Users with the kind of "smart" thermostats that adjust appliance use cut back by 27 percent. ...


* Giamag - Mercedes-Benz unveils DiesOtto - the “future of the gasoline engine”

* Reuters - Mexico, Venezuela oil slumps could hit U.S. supply

* Prensa Latina - Mexican Company Predicts End of Oil

* Voice Of America - Bombing of Mexican Pipelines Puzzles Security Experts

* McClatchy - Attacks on Mexico pipelines show extensive knowledge of energy infrastructure, officials say. Does anyone know what the Mexican press (obliquely referenced in the article) is saying ? Jeff - what is your interpretation ?

* Reuters - World Bank panel probing Chevron West Africa gas pipeline

* Reuters - Canada to face oil pipeline shortage: regulator. Tar sands oil production outpaces pipeline volume growth.

* CFR - Reading Oil’s Tea Leaves

* The Clean Slate Report - Lights Out Reviewed in the WSJ

* James Hansen (New Scientist) - Huge sea level rises are coming – unless we act now

* Grist - Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Crappiness: Navajo nation at odds over coal-plant plan

* Paul Krugman (NYT) - The Sum of Some Fears (via EB).

* The Guardian - Yes, we can shop our way to a cleaner Earth

* Grist - Review: The Upside Of Down


I'd like a wind turbine in my backyard, and I'd also like to get in touch with you.

Hit me at kristopher (at) so I can tell you about a project I want you to be a part of.

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