Tag Archives: U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. East Coast is key crude-by-rail destination

Repost from Oil Change International
[Editor:  Excellent 8-page report.  Interesting for folks on both coasts, and critical for those along the rails in the Midwest and Eastern states!  TAKE NOTE: Does this report describe our future on the west coast?  – RS]

U.S. East Coast is key crude-by-rail destination

By Lorne Stockman, July 22, 2015

Cover_ OCI-East Coast CBR-July 2015_FINALAn examination of crude-by-rail data shows that the U.S. east coast has become one of the busiest regional destinations for hazardous crude-by-rail traffic. Oil Change International used publicly available Department of Energy (EIA) data as well as subscription data from Genscape to examine the growth of crude-by-rail to one of the most densely populated areas of the United States.

Key Findings:

  • An average of 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude was delivered by rail to the east coast region in 2014.
  • Around 50% of all crude-by-rail is unloaded in the wider east coast region (PADD 1).
  • Around 50% of the crude oil input to six east coast refineries is supplied by rail.
  • Over 80% of the crude oil delivered by rail to the region comes from North Dakota (Bakken crude).
  • Canada is the next biggest source of crude-by- rail for the region at around 12%.
  • Five key terminals account for 73% of the unloading capacity and around 65% of the throughput of the region’s crude-by-rail terminals.

This briefing provides additional information on crude-by-rail to the east coast. For further information on crude-by-rail see www.priceofoil/rail

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    Canada oil sands: dirtier than conventional domestic crude

    Repost from the Daily Democrat, Davis CA
    [Editor: Original materials: see the Abstract of the study or the 19 pages of Supporting Information.   – RS]

    Canada oil sands have more emissions than those in US

    By Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service, 06/25/15, 3:20 PM PDT
    A photo of the Valero refinery taken at night in Benicia. Benicia’s Valero refinery is one of the Bay Area’s five refineries that have moved toward acquiring Canadian tar sands crude by rail. A new study by UC Davis has found oil from Canada causes more emissions than oil from the United States.

    Gasoline and diesel fuel extracted and refined from Canadian oil sands will release about 20 percent more carbon into the atmosphere over its lifetime than fuel from conventional domestic crude sources, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, UC Davis and Stanford University.

    The research was funded by the Bioenergy Technologies Office and Vehicle Technologies Office within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

    The researchers used a life-cycle, or “well-to-wheels,” approach, gathering publicly available data on 27 large Canadian oil sands production facilities. The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, found the additional carbon impact of Canadian oil sands was largely related to the energy required for extraction and refining.

    “The level of detail provided in this study is unprecedented,” said co-author Sonia Yeh, a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCD, who helped lead research on emissions related to land disturbance. “It provides a strong scientific basis for understanding the total carbon emissions associated with using this resource, which allows us to move forward with informed discussions on technologies or policy options to reduce carbon emissions.”

    Canadian oil sands are extracted using two processes, both of which are energy intensive. Oil close to the surface can be mined, but still must be heated to separate the oil from the sand. Deeper sources of oil are extracted on site, also called in situ extraction, requiring even more energy when steam is injected underground, heating the oil to the point it can be pumped to the surface. The extracted oil product, known as bitumen, can be moved to refineries in the United States or refined on site to upgraded synthetic crude.

    On-site extraction tends to be more carbon intensive than surface mining, and producing refined synthetic crude generally requires more carbon emissions than producing bitumen. Depending on which methods are used, the carbon intensity of finished gasoline can vary from 8 percent to 24 percent higher than that from conventional U.S. crudes.

    “This is important information about the greenhouse gas impact of this oil source,” said lead author and Argonne researcher Hao Cai. “Canadian oil sands accounted for about 9 percent of the total crude processed in U.S. refineries in 2013, but that percentage is projected to rise to 14 percent in 2020.”

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      California oil: Refinery profit margins rise during price spikes

      Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle
      [Editor:  Significant quote: “A new report from the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog argues that refinery profit margins in the state rise during price spikes — even when a company has to buy extra wholesale gasoline to make up for refinery downtime.”  – RS]

      Refinery ills push price of gasoline up sharply

      Higher crude costs add to spike at pump
      By David R. Baker, 4 May 2015, 7:23 pm
      The ExxonMobil refinery is seen after an explosion in a gasoline processing unit at the facility, in Torrance, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. Two workers suffered minor injuries and a small fire at the unit was quickly put out. The incident triggered a safety flare to burn off flammable substances. The facility about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles covers 750 acres, employs over a thousand people, and processes an average of 155,000 barrels of crude oil per day, according to the company. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) Photo: Nick Ut, Associated Press
      The ExxonMobil refinery is seen after an explosion in a gasoline processing unit at the facility, in Torrance, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. Two workers suffered minor injuries and a small fire at the unit was quickly put out. The incident triggered a safety flare to burn off flammable substances. The facility about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles covers 750 acres, employs over a thousand people, and processes an average of 155,000 barrels of crude oil per day, according to the company. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) Photo: Nick Ut, Associated Press

      California’s gasoline prices jumped 31 cents in the last week, pushed higher by rising crude oil costs and problems at several state refineries.

      It’s the second time this year that California drivers have faced such a steep price spike. And it has some oil company critics livid at a state gasoline market they say is designed to fail.

      “This is a problem that only benefits them, to the expense of California consumers,” said Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist who has pushed to raise the oil industry’s taxes in the state. “When you look at an oligopoly, is there anyone there with an incentive to solve this problem? I would say no.”

      The average cost of a gallon of regular in California hit $ 3.71 on Monday, according to GasBuddy.com. Less than a month ago, in mid- April, regular was selling for less than $ 3.10.

      And while gas prices have been moving higher nationwide, California has by far the nation’s priciest fuel. Even Hawaii currently pays less, with an average of $ 3.20. The national average stands at $ 2.63, according to GasBuddy.com.

      Part of the problem lies in crude oil prices, which have risen 34 percent since mid-March. But California’s sudden price surge also reflects unique aspects of the state’s gasoline market that have frustrated drivers for more than a decade.

      California uses its own pollution-fighting fuel blends not found in other states. As a result, most of California’s gasoline is made by 14 refineries located within the state’s borders. The state also has some of the country’s highest gasoline taxes — almost 66 cents per gallon. And starting in January, California’s cap-and-trade system for reining in greenhouse gas emissions added 10 cents to the overall cost, according to estimates.

      Since only a limited number of refineries make California grade gasoline, any hiccup in production can move prices. In February, Tesoro temporarily shut down its Martinez refinery in response to a labor strike, and an explosion hobbled Exxon Mobil’s refinery in Torrance ( Los Angeles County). Prices soared for four weeks.

      Analysts blame the current spike on production glitches at the Tesoro refinery in Martinez and the Chevron refinery in Richmond, which suffered a flaring incident on April 21.

      In addition, the Oil Price Information Service reported last week that Chevron took down a key unit at its El Segundo ( Los Angeles County) refinery for maintenance, prompting the company to buy up extra gasoline supplies on the wholesale “spot” market to fulfill its contracts to fuel distributors. A Chevron spokesman declined to comment on the El Segundo refinery.

      The price spike may be easing, with the statewide average rising just 1 cent overnight from Sunday to Monday. Wholesale prices are already started to fall.

      Consumer advocates have long argued that the oil companies benefit from keeping gasoline supplies tight in California, with too little fuel held in storage for when the next refinery breakdown strikes.

      A new report from the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog argues that refinery profit margins in the state rise during price spikes — even when a company has to buy extra wholesale gasoline to make up for refinery downtime. Soaring retail prices more than make up for the added expense of buying extra supplies, said Jamie Court, the group’s president.

      “The oil companies know that even if it’s their refinery that’s knocked out, the higher prices will more than compensate them,” he said.

      Court wants the state to require oil companies to maintain a specific amount of fuel in storage, to prevent or at least lessen future price spikes.

      The U. S. Department of Energy is studying the idea of a fuel “reserve” on the West Coast — similar to the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve — but has framed it as a way to prevent supply disruptions after natural disasters, such as earthquakes or tsunamis. Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, said California officials have considered the idea before — and rejected it as unworkable.

      “Intuitively, setting aside large volumes of fuel from the market is not going to help,” Hull said.

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