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Really Conserve Energy

You would not believe the amount of energy wasted by the oil and gas industry.
  (+6, -1)
(+6, -1)
  [vote for,

Our locale is the latest oil boom area. They are punching holes in the ground everywhere you look. It would look like spindle top around here if there were more drilling rigs available. Put that is not the problem. As wells are brought into production, often a mix of oil and gas is brought to the surface. Natural gas is relatively chaep and difficult to handle as it requires pipe lines and pressure uniformity to produce a workable system. Many wells in the area simply "flare" or burn off the gas and distillates rather than deal with them. That's right, I'm putting in compact florescent bulbs in my house and a well a mile away flares 1 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. I'm sure this is not expected to be permanent, but it has lasted over a month so far.

So, about time to get to the idea. I propose a modular electrical generator. These could be built to be truck sized for ease of delivery and relocation as necessary. Your well comes in, you rate the gas flow and order your generator sets from the local utility company. They provide the equipment and startup and maintenance at no cost to the well owner in turn they produce electricty at the site to provide their customers. There is still need for a flare at the well site to accomodate the irregular flow of gas and distillate, but the majority of this waste product is cleanly converted into electricity to run my new Leaf.

cblunds, Jan 21 2011

Do this instead: http://www.youtube....watch?v=HpovwbPGEoo
but bigger. [MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 21 2011]


       what area is this, praytell?
EdwinBakery, Jan 21 2011

       [+] Bun, not only only for using otherwise wasted fuel, but also for *not* suggesting that some law be passed requiring that the gas be compressed and piped away from day one...   

       What's wrong with compressing and piping away natural gas, you ask?   

       Because, on average, in the US natural gas infrastructure, there's an estimated 10% loss of gas due to various and sundry leaks. And unlike flared natural gas, the stuff which escapes via leaks isn't merely wasted, but is a potent greenhouse gas.   

       On the other hand, natural gas which is used at the site of a well is highly unlikely to leak, since the distance it needs to be piped is very short. And since it's such a short distance, little or no compression is needed.   

       The only real downside is that if we require that gas be converted to electricity at the site of every well, we're also requiring every well to have electrical utility lines connected to it, to transport that power away.   

       This is not always convenient... though it's *probably* less inconvenient than the compressors and pipes that would be needed to sell the natural gas directly.
goldbb, Jan 21 2011

       Instead of transporting the electricity, could it not be used to run the plant itself for a time?   

       I think, instead, that the oil rigs should be envosted to do something more interesting with the flared gas, perhaps with a competition to find the most imaginative. BP might go for a mooning 150ft oilworker with the flame emerging strategically. Others might create the worlds largest hannukah thingy. Or perhaps one of those gizmos that displays sound waves as flames.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 21 2011

       // gizmos that displays sound waves as flames //   

       What, a sort of hyperbaric airburst device ? Sounds good ...
8th of 7, Jan 21 2011

       Like this <link>, only really a lot much bigger.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 21 2011

       //oil rigs should be envosted// You mean, boarded and captured by the varsity offshore sailing team of the US Naval Acadmy?
mouseposture, Jan 22 2011

       No no no. "Envostature" is one of the few words to have slipped into the English language from Hungarian, whilst adopting a Romanesque formation. To "envost" (the first related word to be used in English, and itself already quite far adapted from the Hungarian) meant "to compell a sheep driver to prevent his animals straying onto private lands whilst being driven, not by means of legal sanctions but by means of public ridicule".   

       (Incidentally, 'envost' is unrelated to the word 'enveigh' - a coincidental convergent evolution.)   

       Over the centuries, this meaning became broadened to something like "imposing a social norm in a lighthearted but forceful way". Thus, a man failing to wear a hat or a dinguard in 17th century England might be "envosted" until he complied with this social norm.   

       Envosting, however, could get out of hand, with the envosted party being subjected to supposedly humourous, but actually rather vicious, abuse. For example, the Times of the period carries a piece about a group of young boys who siezed a foreign businessman and painted his beard (which was considered inappropriate) with "tarre and with dunge". When challenged, they said "We were only 'vosting him for wearing a sojier's bearde."   

       Laws were therefore laid down governing the process of envosting. This brought it under the auspices of the law, and eventually led to its becoming a quasi-legal method of enforcement of social norms, particularly in cases where these norms had not been embodied in laws with a statutory penalty.   

       Envosting fell out of disuse some time around the mid 1800's, when it came to be seen as an arbitrary and capricious punishment. Over a period of about thirty years, most of the "quasi laws" which were enforced by envosting were either set aside, or were incorporated into official law with defined punishments. However, envosting is still a legal defense for some forms of abuse and coercion, at least in theory*. These days, when social norms change faster than the law can adapt, envostature could be usefully resurrected as a means of imposing them.   

       *EDIT and, apparently, in practice. In 1991 a group of women in the Scottish town of Dungallin were charged with harrassing a local teenager who insisted on wearing very provocative clothing in what was an extremely conservative rural community. Their defence was the right of envostature (actually, in Scots law "the leagch of envost"). They were convicted, but not without a prolonged consideration of their defence.   

       EDIT AGAIN A little research turned up some interesting facts. Many British Oversease Territories still have envostature acts (ie, acts which allow envostature as a defense for certain actions). Anguilla, for example, recently voted to retain envostature during a revision of its legal framework. The Pitcairn Islands, Turks and Caicos and Montserrat also retain envostature. In most of the other Territories, it's hard to tell if envostature still exists in any meaningful form.   

       Many former British-controlled areas also retain envostature. For instance, the Lipoma Islands (one of the few British territories in that region to be granted independence amicably) reverted to their own, pre-colonial legal system, but incorporated envostature from the British system, and still use it quite widely. The community there is small and integrated enough that this system of social justice doesn't get out of hand. Likewise, some provinces of Malaysia (Selangor, for instance) retain envostature, as do the Clove Islands.   

       So, now you know.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 22 2011

       Ah yes. The higher bollocks. My grudging respect, [MB].
pertinax, Jan 24 2011

       Well, Day 34 and the flare is out, guess the gas stopped, or the pipeline got there.   

       I like the idea of doing something spectacular with the gas (saving it up for a big celebration comes to mind), but I was frustrated when I got my electric bill and did a rough calculation of the energy in 30 million cubic feet of gas (from a single well).   

       We are sitting about the middle of the Eagle Ford Shale formation in South Texas. There is not a motel room, RV space or house for rent available in 3 counties.
cblunds, Jan 25 2011

       I'm sure it's a priority, those are profits just burning away.
AutoMcDonough, Jan 25 2011

       I always wondered about the wasteful flaring myself, and thought they could at least shove it through a small gas turbine to generate electricity for the plant.
I think the usual excuse is "We couldn't be bothered". Even inefficient power is better than no power. There's examples of the same 'burn-off' wastage at some landfill-gas-producing landfills.
neutrinos_shadow, Jan 25 2011

       I suppose it comes down to a question of the costs of wasting that initial flare of gas, versus the costs of installing and maintaining a gas generator, given that other power sources will be needed once the flaring is done.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 25 2011


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