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December 2004

December 26, 2004

All Public Transit in Punjab to be CNG


Daily Times. All public transport vehicles in the administrative district of Punjab, Pakistan, will run on compressed natural gas (CNG) to combat pollution, according to Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

Elahi said that, in the first phase, only CNG fitted buses would be allotted route permits in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad.

Elahi said that route permits would not be issued to two-stroke rickshaws, adding that their owners would be provided interest free loans to convert their engines into four-stroke engines. He said that owners of diesel engine buses would also be provided loans to convert to CNG fitted engines.

According to the US EIA, Pakistan has 26.8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven gas reserves, and currently produces around 0.8 Tcf of natural gas per year, all of which is consumed domestically.

Increased usage in the transportation and power generation sectors will necessitiate a sharp rise in dometic production as well as importing foreign gas by pipeline from Iran or, perhaps, from Qatar.

December 26, 2004 in Fleets, Natural Gas | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ford to Unveil Diesel-Hybrid Concept Car


Ford is unveiling a diesel-hybrid concept car at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The Mercury Meta One is based on the Freestyle and uses a twin-turbocharged V-6 diesel combined with an electric motor. No details yet on the elements of the hybrid system, or projected fuel consumption. Meta One is designed to meet  California’s Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) requirement.

The hybrid powertrain delivers 431 lb.-ft. of torque and is 97% cleaner than the Tier I emissions standard for NOx. Meta One, according to Ford,  shows that diesels can potentially meet the strictest emissions standards when combined with modern hybrid and after-treatment technologies.

To meet the California PZEV requirements, the vehicle must meet SULEV-2 emissions levels combined with a 15 year/150K mile emissions warranty and a zero-evaporative fuel system.  There are some 16+ 2004 models from 10 different automakers meeting PZEV requirements, among them the Ford Focus and the hybrid Escape (AT-PZEV for Advanced Technology PZEV).

Ford has also working with BP in exploring the performance of biodiesel in the concept engine.

The Meta One is also a showcase for two new advances in safety technology: Lane Departure Warning and Collision Mitigation by Braking. (Meta One also features built-in WiFi capability.)

Ford, which is adding two more gas-electric hybrids to its lineup, isn’t ready to commit to diesel hybrid technology. But preliminary tests are promising.

“They are very close, from an emissions level—theoretically—to what a fuel cell could produce,“ said Phil Martens, group vice president of North America product creation.

More details as they come.

Ford, with its partnership with PSA, is becoming more of a force in diesel engines...especially smaller diesel engines popular in Europe.  Earlier this year, Ford joined with the UK Department for Transport, Ricardo Consulting Engineers, Valeo SA and the Gates Corporation in a research project to develop a diesel hybrid medium-sized commercial vehicle.

December 26, 2004 in Diesel, Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 25, 2004

Kansas Salt Mine First to Use B100

Soyatech. The Hutchinson Salt Co, in Hutchinson, Kansas. is the first mine of any kind to use B100.

“We use B100 biodiesel in everything underground that runs on diesel,” said Max Liby, VP of Manufacturing for the mine. “The main benefit is we’ve cleaned up soot in the air and have cut particulates. Workers, particularly the operator of the loaders, like the soy biodiesel much better because they say particulates do not get in their nostrils and the air is noticeably cleaner. Also, lubricity is much greater than if we used regular diesel fuel, so the injector pumps and injectors work more efficiently. The soy biodiesel actually cleans the injectors,” he said.

Hutchinson Salt  began using biodiesel in June 2003, and used 31,229 gallons of B100 in the first year.

December 25, 2004 in Biodiesel, Fleets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Az County Shifting to Biodiesel for Some School Buses

Tucson Citizen. Several Pima County, Az, school districts are switching early next year to a B20 blend for their school buses.

“It should not cost the districts any more in the long run, but the air-quality benefit and the benefit of the displacement of foreign fossil fuels will be immense,” said Colleen Crowninshield, clean cities coordinator for the Pima Association of Governments.

[Marc] Lappitt [director of transportation for Amphitheater Public Schools] said he would like to see all school districts in Pima County form a consortium that would buy fuel in a huge block. That would allow better leverage in getting lower prices.

Rich Hittle, manager of Arizona Petroleum, said such a consortium would be a first in the nation.

Pima County school districts burn more than 2 million gallons of diesel fuel each year to drive about 10 million miles.

December 25, 2004 in Biodiesel, Fleets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Philippines Close to National Ethanol Program

Philippine Star.  The Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting pending legislation allowing the use of ethanol as an alternative blending product for gasoline.

Bills in the House and Senate call for the establishment of a National Fuel Ethanol Program. The target is a 10% ethanol blend for vehicles by 2007, increasing to 25% in 2010.

Petron Corp., the Philippine’s biggest oil refiner, partly-owned by the government, has forged an agreement with PTT of Thailand for the development and use of ethanol.

December 25, 2004 in Ethanol | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 24, 2004

Volvo Introduces Its Most Fuel-Efficient Engine Yet

Volvo has extended downward the engine range for its new S40 and V50 compact models (launched in 2003) with the addition of 1.6-liter engines in both gasoline and diesel versions. The 1.6-liter diesel delivers an average fuel consumption of 4.9 liters/100 km (48 mpg US) and is the most fuel-efficient engine ever offered by Volvo Cars.

The inline-4, 1.6-liter diesel engine is a turbocharged unit with variable turbo geometry. Both the cylinder block and head are of aluminium to minimize weight and fuel consumption.  The new diesel develops a maximum output of 81 kW (110 bhp) and a torque of 240 Nm, providing acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 12 seconds (0-60 mph in 11.4 seconds).

The new gasoline engine is a four-cylinder, 1.6-liter, normally aspirated unit. The engine output is 74 kW (100 bhp) and the torque 150 Nm.

New Volvo 1.6-liter Engines
 1.6 Diesel1.6 Gasoline
Displacement: cc 1560 1596
Output: kW
Torque: Nm
BMEP 280.5 171.9
0–60mph: seconds 11.4 11.3
Fuel consumption: l/100km
CO2: g/km 129 171
Emissions Standard Euro III Euro IV

The side-by-side comparison of the two highlights the capabilities of the diesel engine: a slightly smaller, more efficient engine, with lower fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions delivers acceleration only 0.1 second slower than its gasoline cousin...and that ranks worse on emissions.

Volvo offers an optional self-cleaning particle filter to reduce PM emissions further, but I do not have information on the amount of the reduction—or what impact it might have on performance.

As part of the Ford-PSA cooperative agreement on engineering and producing diesels, Volvo Engine in Sweden is gearing up to produce the 4-cylinder, 2.0-liter diesel already offered in the S40 and V50.

The introduction of the smaller (downsized) engines is in keeping with a spate of similar announcements from other automakers seeking to lower emissions of CO2 for the European fleets in keeping with the Kyoto guidelines.

December 24, 2004 in Diesel, Fuel Efficiency | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 23, 2004

3Q Oil Production from 24 Major US-Based Energy Companies: Down 2% Year-to-Year

The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration has released the third quarter financial results from 24 major US-based energy companies. (Earlier post on 2Q results is here.) This basket of companies includes the US-based subsidiaries of BP and Shell, but not the international operations of those companies, as both are based overseas.


Not surprisingly, the combined level of net income for Q3-04 was 56% higher than in Q3-03.  The EIA also collects production data, which I have charted at the right. (Click to enlarge.)

Across all 24 companies, total crude oil production dropped 2% from the third quarter of 2003 to the third quarter of 2004 on a volume of 8,218 thousand barrels a day. That combined 3Q-04 volume is also 5% less than the 2Q-04 production figure of 8,627 thousand barrels per day.

Even the 3.6% increase in foreign production was not enough to offset the 9.1% drop in domestic production. US consumption of oil is running at about 20.5 million barrels per day.

3Q Oil Production from 24 Major Energy Companies (kbpd)
Source3Q-033Q-04Δ Vol.% Δ
Domestic 3,711 3,373 -338 -9.1%
Foreign 4,675 4,845 +170 +3.6%

December 23, 2004 in Oil | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Increase in Energy Prices not Spurring Conservation

Rigzone. The surge in fuel cost this year has not catalyzed any noticeable conservation. The consensus among experts is that higher prices need to persist for a longer period for  change to occur, although some are more optimistic about rapid change than others.

Economists, energy analysts and efficiency gurus say they expected petroleum demand growth to slow in 2004, given that total spending will rise by about $295 billion, or 27 percent. Instead, worldwide oil demand grew more than 3 percent, according to government data, or about twice as fast as the market had originally anticipated. [...]

Mark D. Levine, the director of the environmental energy technologies division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., said he was "disappointed" though not entirely surprised by the inelasticity of oil demand over such a short period of time. [...]

Levine...believes that as oil demand in China and other developing nations grows, and as oil producers eventually have trouble keeping up with demand, decision-makers in households, corporations and, most importantly, government, will rethink the way we consume energy.

“Remember when those huge monster cars went out of fashion? Well, that will happen again,” he said.

The question is: What (or when) is the tipping point?

December 23, 2004 in Oil | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Landspeed Prius Hits 130.794 mph at Bonneville


A modified Toyota Prius set a hybrid record speed of 130.794 mph on the three-mile short course at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

An engineering group from Toyota and Toyota Motorsports worked on the Prius for more than two months to prepare the vehicle.

The Landspeed Prius ran a stock Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain. The transmission final drive gear ratio for the gas engine was modified from the stock 4.23:1 to 3.2, while the inverter voltage was increased to 550 volts from 500 volts. The engine redline was also changed for optimum performance.

A transmission cooling system was added to the front passenger area to decrease the temperature of the inverter and electric motors and maximize efficiency. Regular ice was constantly added to the system to prevent overheating. Ambient temperature on the salt flats was nearly 100 degrees with nearly 100 degrees humidity.

Other modifications included the removal of the interior, the addition of a roll cage and lowering the suspension five inches for improved aerodynamics. The Landspeed Prius incorporates custom Bilstein shocks and Eibach springs. The inner fender wells were also altered to accommodate the lowered ride height.

The Landspeed Prius uses unique 26–inch front and 25-inch rear Goodyear Eagle Landspeed Record tires. Toyota will display the Landspeed Prius at the upcoming 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

December 23, 2004 in Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 22, 2004

China Seeking Canadian Oil

The New York Times reports that Chinese energy companies are maneuvering to strike ambitious deals in efforts to win access to Canadian oil.

Canada, the largest source of imported oil for the United States, has historically sent almost all its exports of oil south by pipeline to help quench America’s thirst for energy. But that arrangement may be about to change as China, which has surpassed Japan as the second-largest market for oil, flexes its muscle in attempts to secure oil, even in places like the cold boreal forests of northern Alberta, where the oil has to be sucked out of the sticky, sandy soil.

“The China outlet would change our dynamic,” said Murray Smith, a former Alberta energy minister who was appointed this month to be the province’s representative in Washington, a new position. Mr. Smith said he estimated that Canada could eventually export as many as one million barrels a day to China out of potential exports of more than three million barrels a day.

“Our main link would still be with the U.S. but this would give us multiple markets and competition for a prized resource,” Mr. Smith said. [...]

Chinese companies are also said to be considering direct investments in the oil sands, by buying into existing producers or acquiring companies with leases to produce oil in the region. In all, there are nearly half a dozen deals in consideration, initially valued at $2 billion and potentially much more, according to senior executives at energy companies here.

Canada’s oil production from the sands surpassed one million barrels a day this year and was expected to reach three million barrels within a decade. The bulk of output is exported to the Midwestern United States. That flow pushed Canada ahead of Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela this year as the largest supplier of foreign oil to the United States, with average exports of 1.6 million barrels a day.

Even so, there is the perception among many in Alberta’s oil patch that Canada’s rapidly growing energy industry remains an afterthought for most Americans. That might change, industry analysts say, if Canada were to start exporting oil elsewhere.

Competition for oil is starting to hit closer to home. (Earlier post.)

Here’s a breakdown of the top 6 exporters to the US in October 2004, according to data from the EIA. (Actual imports, not average daily rate.) Canada, which was number one in September, slipped behind Mexico to number 2.

Total actual imports from September 2004 to October 2004 increased 10%, from 290 million barrels to 320 million barrels.

Top Petroleum Exporters to the US, Oct 2004
CountryBarrels (millions)% total US Imports
Mexico 53.394 16.7%
Canada 52.311 16.3%
Saudi Arabia 49.011 15.3%
Venezuela 41.229 12.9%
Nigeria 31.889 10.0%
Iraq 20.000 6.2%

December 22, 2004 in China, Oil | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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