US Task Force on Unconventional Fuels Completes Plan; Calls Situation Urgent and Targets 7M Barrels Per Day by 2035
|Unconventional fuels objectives for 2035. Click to enlarge.|
The Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels, established by the Secretary of Energy under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, has completed an integrated strategy and program plan to coordinate and accelerate the commercial development of strategic unconventional fuels within the United States, including oil shale and tar sands, heavy oil, enhanced oil recovery, and coal-derived liquids.
The Task Force concluded that the domestic and global fuels supply situation and outlook is urgent.
The Nation is substantially at risk, from an economic and national security perspective, to warrant development of an aggressive integrated unconventional fuels development program, supported by attendant policies to promote expeditious development of these resources.
While the task force expects that these unconventional fuel resources should and will be developed primarily by industry, the report identifies a range of policy options to be considered by Federal, state, and local policy makers to stimulate timely investment with an objective to achieve aggregate production levels in excess of 7 million barrels per day by 2035.
The integrated plan details proposed program objectives, strategies, key activities, and timelines providing the basis for subsequent program implementation planning.
The task force cautions that unconventional fuels are no panacea, however.
Even with the production of almost 7 million barrels per day of incremental supply by 2035, unconventional fuels development would only slightly reduce the volume of net imports, after offsetting expected demand growth. As such, reducing demand must also be part of the nation’s overall strategy for lowering imports and achieving greater self sufficiency.
...The most likely place for efficiency gains relative to liquid fuels is in the individual transportation sector. It is assumed that expected efficiency gains in aircraft, trucks, and industrial uses have already been accounted for in the AEO base case. To achieve this objective the public will need to become part of the solution.
Becoming “part of the solution”, according to the task force, entails:
Increasing fuel economy through improved engine and vehicle efficiency and consumer choices. The public might be persuaded, according to the report, to buy a more efficient vehicle at a rate of 20% improvement over 17 years. This is equivalent to each buyer improving mileage by 1.2% for each year of vehicle upgrade. An accelerated case presented in the study assumes a 30% improvement over 17 years—the equivalent of 1.75% per year.
Resolving poor driving habits could add about 7% to MPG. The analysis assumes that for each year 3% of the population adopts fuel saving driving habits or 5% adoption in the accelerated case. A 5% improvement translates to an oil demand reduction of approximately 1 mbpd.
Reducing miles driven, by changing habits, proximity to work, etc. Reducing net miles driven by 20% in 30 years for the moderate case and by 30% in the accelerated case is done by a combination of car pooling, mass transit (electric powered), telecommuting, and reversal of the commuter culture (jobs closer to homes, or more urban living). The analysis assumes an adoption rate of 3%/year in the moderate case and 5% in the accelerated case.
Reducing the number of people driving which is a function of total population, carpooling, use of mass transit, etc. The analysis assumes an underlying population growth rate of 0.823% per year. Population increase effectively offsets conservation gains, but conservation is needed if there is to be a net decrease in demand as population grows...From these calculations, it is clear that the biggest impact would be from people electing to purchase vehicles with higher MPG.
The task force has transmitted a three-volume report to policymakers for their review and consideration.
These volumes include:
Volume I: Preparation Strategy, Plan and Recommendations
Volume II: Resource-Specific and Crosscutting Plans
Volume III: Resource and Technology Profiles
Significant challenges constrain the development of these resources, according to the task force. The nature of these challenges, depending on the resource, can include technology readiness; access to resources on public lands; development economics; environmental concerns; socio-economic effects; water resources; markets; and infrastructure, among others.
The Integrated Plan provides an approach for evaluating and addressing each of these challenges and proposes an integrated strategy for achieving production from this suite of resources that could reach approximately 7 million barrels/day of oil equivalent by 2035.
The Task Force is comprised of the Secretaries of Energy, the Interior, and Defense, five governors (CO, WY,UT, KY, MS) and three representatives from potentially impacted communities.