Prudhoe Bay (largest producing oil field in the U.S. and 18th largest worldwide with an estimated 50 billion barrels as well as large scale gas) was highlighted yesterday on the website owned by Proactive Investors Australia . (This outfit notes itself as “the market leader in producing news, articles and research reports on ASX “Small and Mid-cap” stocks with distribution in Australia, UK, North America and Hong Kong / China”). The article stated that Rampart Energy (AU company) agreed to purchase acreage which can initially begin earnings for a $3.4 million payment with later earnings locked in by conducting 3D seismic survey by the end of March 2014 (and final earnings by drilling, testing and completing two wells a year later). Thus straight forward milestones were listed, and what looks to be a good exposure of Alaskan North Slope oil to Australian market observers came through.
Last night I was able to see the latest in small, remote heating stoves. Take a look at his 56 lbs. unit: http://www.unforgettablefirellc.com/products/off-grid-living/ (OK, ‘unforgettable fire’ as a corporate name may be over the top but the stove itself is worth a view). Joining the Wood Stove Decathlon in Wash. D.C. slated for November, this unit is a finalist in the Next Generation Wood Stove Design Challenge competition. With a 22 page manual that has specs for both the US and Canada, it seems to have thought out well in design and also assistance means. It can burn pellets, whole log wood, barley/grains, coal etc… I’m told and with a 3 inch flue has the flexibility to be mounted on a boat, an RV, into a masonry smoke stack in a cabin, or out of the roof of a home with traditional smoke stack. The claim is that it will heat up to 1500 sq. feet. It is impressive and efficient at first glance; so, it will be interesting to follow and see what the performance comes out as!
A retired Colorado/Kansas farmer came in the office last week to talk about unexplained ice dams he’s had (and to ask questions on replacing resulting wet insulation). He still has the farm, but moved up here several years ago and bought a ‘project house’ not far from UAF. Traditionally, that country has been wheat, yet in talking of his farm days he mentioned that they irrigated hard for growing corn while he was working his land and that they would get complaints (the watershed council I imagine) from down by Amarillo, Texas due to their use (note it was the very NW corner of CO) dropping the table in Texas….
Do water and oil mix? Well, maybe figuratively as similar to oil, water is a precious commodity that our own former governor at one time looked into exporting by pipe. (See WATER BOONDOGGLES-The biggest little water plan in Texas at http://www.edwardsaquifer.net/pdf/waterplan.pdf for a hoot).
A New York Times cover story this morning (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/us/high-plains-aquifer-dwindles-hurting-farmers.html?hp) makes the Great Plains (right up to the Front Range) look somewhat like a possible repeat of 1929…. At the cusp of the stock market crash, farmers also had over invested in capital machinery/land, over produced relative to the grain market demand, and ecologically drained their production base -soil- by pulling up the century’s old ground cover to PLANT MORE. Drought exasperated the torn open dirt and blew it away. While new tillage and plowing techniques mitigated the redistribution of precious topsoil, the bulk water irrigation age was about to begin that would drain another ecologically ‘non-renewable’ resource- groundwater. This isn’t the only growing problem with ag business and water reserves, as up in the Midwest the drive to use more nitrates for boosting (often corn) crop yields has pushed green growth into the Mississippi which in turn has greatly reduced its drainage (especially at the Louisiana Delta).
Thus big pivot irrigation=>bulk water drained=>Free market failure (due to negative externality costs of ‘water’ not being internalized into the overhead of corn bushel and other crop prices on the commodity market). At first glance, ethanol as a biofuel looks comparably competitive to oil, but ground water is relatively a ‘non-renewable’ resource as it takes hundreds or thousands of years to recharge the aquifers. Simple free market (which I dearly love) failure.Market and labor readjustments, very painfully, will happen. Non-intensive water uses will utilize the land…… YET, Alaska may be poised well relative of other Southwest and Great Plains states as water is currently plentiful, and aquifers haven’t been extracted at corporate levels. And water may- in some parts of the country- be as valuable a commodity as BTU laden oil.
In Southeast Alaska the winter temperatures often hover around freezing, which is warm enough to extract heat out of the ambient outdoor air and rotate that heat into a home through the same process refrigerators use. Cold coolant runs through tubes outside the home, is compressed so as to increase the heat present, and it then runs into the home and ‘drops the heat off’ through a heat exchanger. The coolant then consolidates and makes the loop again. Houses that have a warm utility closet can take that heat into other rooms within the house. Read more about what the Cold Climate Housing Resource Center found about performance of these devices at: http://cchrc.org/docs/reports/ASHP_final.pdf. While this is a thick piece, it does well at explaining the process!
Well, here in my native state of Colorado at the National Extension Energy Summit we are having a great May blizzard. (http://m.accuweather.com/en/weather-video/video-breaking-weather-snow-coming-soon-to-denver/1670024770). On the heels of a great Rural Energy Conference by Alaska Center for Energy and Power I flew the red-eye down to share about the Remote Camp Energy workshop that is offered in Alaska. This workshop was originally co-taught with Walter Rose, Energy Specialist at Kawerak in Nome as an answer to folks wanting heat and power at fish camp in the summer, as well as in mining camps. With Dave PM, Rural Energy Coordinator at Tanana Chiefs Conference, I have refined the workshop as other inventors of devices keep giving us more material to let others know about! (Lord willing, if I get back to AK by Friday from this snowzilla, an abbreviated version of the workshop will kick off the Kenai Sportsman Show at 1:30-3:00pm!). If you are interested learning about remote camp energy, contact our administrative assistant Carmen (474-5854) and let her know where (what community) you would like to see this workshop or any of our other 5 (one to three hour) workshops offered!