Tag Archives: Jet fuel

Why Airlines Keep Pushing Biofuels: They Have No Choice

Repost from The New York Times

Why Airlines Keep Pushing Biofuels: They Have No Choice

By  Jonathan Fahey & Scott Mayerowitz, AP Business, July 21, 2015, 12:52 P.M. E.D.T.
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2009 file photo, a Japan Air Lines staffer checks the biofuel-loaded No. 3 engine of Japan Airlines Boeing 747-300 before a demo flight at Tokyo International Airport in Tokyo. Using blend of 50 percent biofuel and 50 percent traditional Jet-A jet (kerosene) fuel, JAL conducted an hour-long demonstration flight. Many in the industry believe that without a replacement for jet fuel, growth in air travel could be threatened by forthcoming rules that limit global aircraft emissions. Photo: Itsuo Inouye, AP / AP
FILE – In this Jan. 30, 2009 file photo, a Japan Air Lines staffer checks the biofuel-loaded No. 3 engine of Japan Airlines Boeing 747-300 before a demo flight at Tokyo International Airport in Tokyo. Using blend of 50 percent biofuel and 50 percent traditional Jet-A jet (kerosene) fuel, JAL conducted an hour-long demonstration flight. Many in the industry believe that without a replacement for jet fuel, growth in air travel could be threatened by forthcoming rules that limit global aircraft emissions. Photo: Itsuo Inouye, AP / AP

NEW YORK — The number of global fliers is expected to more than double in the next two decades. In order to carry all those extra passengers, airlines are turning to a technology very few can make work on a large scale: converting trash into fuel.

They have no other choice.

As people in countries such as China, India and Indonesia get wealthier they are increasingly turning to air travel for vacation or business, creating an enormous financial opportunity for the airlines. The number of passengers worldwide could more than double, to 7.3 billion a year, in the next two decades, according to the International Air Transport Association.

But many in the industry believe that without a replacement for jet fuel, that growth could be threatened by forthcoming rules that limit global aircraft emissions.

“It’s about retaining, as an industry, our license to grow,” says Julie Felgar, managing director for environmental strategy at plane maker Boeing, which is coordinating sustainable biofuel research programs in the U.S., Australia, China, Brazil, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

Cars, trucks and trains can run on electricity, natural gas, or perhaps even hydrogen someday to meet emissions rules. But lifting a few hundred people, suitcases and cargo 35,000 feet into the sky and carrying them across a continent requires so much energy that only liquid fuels can do the trick. Fuel from corn, which is easy to make and supplies nearly 10 percent of U.S. auto fuel, doesn’t provide enough environmental benefit to help airlines meet emissions rules.

“Unlike the ground transport sector, they don’t have a lot of alternatives,” says Debbie Hammel, a bioenergy policy expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

That leaves so-called advanced biofuels made from agricultural waste, trash, or specialty crops that humans don’t eat. United Airlines last month announced a $30 million stake in Fulcrum Bioenergy, the biggest investment yet by a U.S. airline in alternative fuels. Fulcrum hopes to build facilities that turn household trash into diesel and jet fuel.

FedEx, which burns 1.1 billion gallons of jet fuel a year, promised Tuesday to buy 3 million gallons per year of fuel that a company called Red Rock Biofuels hopes to make out of wood waste in Oregon. Southwest Airlines had already agreed to also buy some of Red Rock’s planned output.

These efforts are tiny next to airlines’ enormous fuel consumption. U.S. airlines burn through 45 million gallons every day. But airlines have little choice but to push biofuels because the industry is already in danger of missing its own emissions goals, and that’s before any regulations now being considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and international agencies.

The industry’s international trade group has pledged to stop increasing emissions by 2020 even as the number of flights balloons. By 2050, it wants carbon dioxide emissions to be half of what they were in 2005.

Like airlines, the U.S. military is also supporting development of these fuels for strategic and financial reasons. For biofuels makers, it is a potentially enormous customer: The military is the biggest single energy consumer in the country.

Making biofuels at large, commercial scale is difficult and dozens of companies have gone belly up trying. The logistics of securing a steady, cheap supply of whatever the fuel is to be made from can take years. Financing a plant is expensive because lenders know the risks and demand generous terms. A sharp drop in the price of crude oil has made competing with traditional fuels on price more difficult.

The airlines are now seeing some of these difficulties up close. A United program to power regular flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco with fuels made from agricultural waste was delayed when the fuel producer, AltAir, had trouble retrofitting the existing refinery. The companies now say the flights should begin in August. Red Rock’s planned deliveries to Southwest have also been pushed back, to 2017 from 2016, and construction of the plant has not yet started.

But many in the industry say they are not surprised, or daunted, by the time and effort it will take to bring large amounts of biofuels, at competitive prices, to market.

“We really are trying to create a brand new fuel industry,” says Boeing’s Felgar. “We’ve always known this is a long term play, and our industry is long term.”

And if any industry is going to crack fuel from waste on a big scale, the airline industry might be the best bet.

Instead of having to build the infrastructure to distribute and sell these fuels at hundreds of thousands of gas stations, jet fuel only has to be delivered to a small number of major airports. For example, nearly half of United’s passengers fly through its five hubs in Houston, Chicago, Newark, San Francisco and Denver.

Still, after the many disappointments that have plagued biofuel development, few want to promise an imminent biofuel revolution. “I’m not Pollyannaish about this,” says Felgar. “I’m not optimistic, I’m not pessimistic, but I’m determined.”

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    Vancouver City Council passes oil moratorium

    Repost from The Columbian

    Vancouver City Council passes oil moratorium

    Unanimous vote approves emergency six-month measure
    By Stephanie Rice, September 11, 2014
    An oil train passes through Vancouver. The Vancouver City Council on Thursday unanimously passed an emergency six-month moratorium on new or expanded facilities that would accept crude oil. The moratorium won’t affect the oil transfer terminal proposed by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies that’s currently under review by the state. (Steven Lane/The Columbian)

    The Vancouver City Council on Thursday unanimously passed an emergency six-month moratorium on new or expanded facilities that would accept crude oil.

    The moratorium won’t affect the oil transfer terminal proposed by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies that’s currently under review by the state.

    While the six-month moratorium was straightforward — a public hearing will be Oct. 20, and it will expire March 10, 2015, unless extended by the council — a last-minute filing muddied the issue.

    The special council meeting was announced Wednesday in accordance with a state law requiring 24-hour public notice. It was meant to head off plans by NuStar Energy L.P. of San Antonio to apply to start storing crude oil at its two bulk tank terminals in Vancouver, one at the port and one at 5420 Fruit Valley Road.

    At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, a preliminary application was filed by NuStar with the city, said Brent Boger, an assistant city attorney.

    Boger said he doesn’t know whether a pre-application qualifies the project as vested, and therefore exempt from the moratorium.

    A pre-application signals interest to do a project in the city. During a pre-application conference, the applicant learns what the city would require before permits would be issued so the applicant can decide whether to go forward with an application.

    Without a moratorium, NuStar would be allowed to store crude oil under current city zoning, Boger said.

    Jon Wagner, a senior planner, told the council he hadn’t had enough time to thoroughly review the thick packet submitted by NuStar.

    NuStar has handled jet fuel, antifreeze, diesel, methanol and other products at its Vancouver terminals, but not crude oil. In April, NuStar submitted an application for an air quality permit with the Southwest Clean Air Agency to convert a tank at each of its locations to handle crude oil.

    The terminals would receive oil by rail, and then ship it out by barge.

    NuStar spokesman Chris Cho said Thursday the potential crude-by-rail project at the Vancouver terminal is in the early stages of development, but a pre-application was submitted for a building permit to start the lengthy permitting process.

    “If we receive regulatory approvals to build the facility, we anticipate it would handle an average of 22,000 barrels per day — approximately one-third the capacity of one unit train per day,” Cho said. “This project would provide revenue to the port, create jobs, bring more low-cost crude to the region, and further support U.S. energy independence. It would also be a state-of-the-art facility that would be operated safely, in accordance with NuStar’s very high safety standards,” Cho said.

    Cho emphasized that NuStar operates rail facilities at many terminals and invests in safety equipment, technology and specialized training for employees and ensures trains comply with all regulatory safety standards.

    Aside from the NuStar questions, the council focused on wanting the six months to discuss how crude petroleum facilities should be regulated. The proposed moratorium referenced Bakken crude oil, but Councilor Anne McEnerny-Ogle suggested the moratorium cover all crude oil facilities and other councilors agreed.

    The only councilor who objected to the moratorium was Bill Turlay, but he changed his mind and voted with his six peers.

    Initially, Turlay, speaking to the audience that filled the council chambers, said he remembers when many of them showed up to protest coal trains.

    Now it’s oil trains, he said.

    Critics of the Tesoro-Savage facility cite many concerns, including potential oil spills, the volatility of North Dakota Bakken crude and global climate change.

    Turlay, who believes that carbon dioxide has only a negligible effect on climate change, said instead of rushing to a moratorium he wants a public debate about causes of climate change. His comments prompted laughter and groans from the audience.

    Turlay said he does have concern about safety, but trusts the rigorous review by the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council weeds out any dangerous proposals.

    Councilor Jack Burkman pointed out to Turlay that smaller projects need city, not state, approval. Those smaller projects don’t have to be reviewed by the state evaluation council, and that’s the point of enacting a moratorium.

    Councilor Alishia Topper told Turlay the council was doing what he said he wanted, which was to slow down and carefully weigh the pros and cons of additional regulations.

    When it came time for roll call, Turlay said he changed his mind and voted “yes.”

    In June, the City Council voted to formally intervene in the EFSEC process, a legal maneuver giving the city the right to present evidence and appeal.

    The council also approved a broad policy statement opposing any proposal that would result in an increase of Bakken crude oil being hauled through Clark County.

    Tesoro-Savage wants to build an oil-by-rail terminal that would receive an average of 360,000 barrels of crude per day at the port.

    Eventually, the evaluation council will make a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee, who will approve or deny the project.

    While the city’s moratorium won’t stop the Tesoro-Savage project, Vancouver resident Jim Luce, a former chairman of EFSEC who opposes the oil terminal, said it could influence Inslee.

    “It sends a signal to the state — and the governor — that the Vancouver City Council is not enthusiastic about siting oil terminals in its backyard,” Luce said Thursday.

    Erin Middlewood contributed to this article.

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      Delta Airlines enters Bakken crude-by-rail business

      Repost from UPI.com Business News

      Delta sources Bakken crude for Pennsylvania refinery

      Deal accounts for one third of refinery’s capacity.
      By Daniel J. Graeber   |   July 21, 2014

      Delta Air Lines and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to nearly 370 destinations on six continents. For more information visit news.delta.com.

       

       

      ATLANTA, July 21 (UPI) —A subsidiary of Delta Air Lines said Monday it signed a five-year deal to send 65,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day to its refinery in Trainer, Pa.

      Delta subsidiary Monroe Energy signed the deal with midstream energy company Bridger LLC to supply about 30 percent of the crude oil refined daily at the Trainer facility. The crude oil would be sourced primarily from the Bakken reserve area in North Dakota, which the company says is cheaper than oil imported from overseas markets.

      “Supplying a third of the crude refined at Trainer from the Bakken further reduces the overall cost of fuel for Delta,” Graeme Burnett, a senior vice president for fuel optimization for Delta and chairman of Monroe, said in a statement.

      Bridger is a midstream company that recently invested $200 million on railcars, which are said to exceed current safety standards for crude oil transportation.

      There’s not enough pipeline capacity in the United States to handle the glut of oil, forcing some companies to rely on rail as an alternative transit method.

      A federal warning in early 2014 said Bakken crude oil may be more prone to explosion than other grades if involved in a derailment. The 2013 derailment of a train carrying Bakken oil in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, left more than 40 people dead.

      Increased crude oil production has sparked calls for U.S. exports, though Burnett told U.S. lawmakers more exports of U.S. crude would mean more imports for some markets, which would lead to higher global oil prices.

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