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Russia, Saudis team up to boost fracking tech

Russia, Saudis team up to boost fracking tech

While Saudi Arabia and Russia are leading the production cut pact between OPEC and 11 non-OPEC oil producers, Russian oil company Gazprom Neft will cooperate with Saudi Aramco on ways to boost production, including in fracking technology and hard-to-recover oil, Gazprom Neft’s CEO Aleksandr Dyukov said on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Gazprom Neft and Saudi Aramco signed a memorandum of cooperation during the visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to Russia.
Cooperation would include “drilling and well workover technologies, improvements to pumping systems, and the development of large-scale non-metal pipes. The parties also plan to discuss perspectives for collaboration in research and development and experimental engineering works, as well as options for applying innovative solutions to a wide range of technological challenges,” Gazprom Neft said.
Apart from Gazprom Neft, Aramco signed deals in Russia with Gazprom on gas cooperation, with the Russian Direct Investment Fund on investment in energy services and manufacturing, with LUKOIL’s trading arm Litasco on collaboration in trading, and with Russian Direct Investment Fund and SIBUR on strategic marketing for petrochemicals.
The Russian company sees the production cut deal as a short-term one, Yakovlev said.
Meanwhile, as the OPEC summit at end-November is drawing closer, speculation intensifies as to what the cartel and partners would decide (if at all) to do with the deal that expires in March 2018. Most analysts believe that the pact should be extended until the end of next year for a sustained oil market rebalancing.

Alternative Energy

Oil Spills Pose Dire Threats to Marine Life

Oil Spills Pose Dire Threats to Marine Life

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says oil pipelines have no place in BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. Opponents of the approved Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to the West Coast and the cancelled Energy East pipeline to the East Coast argue pipelines and tankers don’t belong in any coastal areas.
After examining potential impacts of a 15,000-cubic-meter oil spill in BC waters on 21 marine mammals, researchers concluded most individuals would be at risk and a few local populations wouldn’t survive.
Resident and transient killer whales, sea otters and Steller sea lions were most likely to see a drop in population levels from an oil spill. Killer whales are especially vulnerable because of their small populations, low reproductive rates, dietary specialization, long lives and complex social structure. The 76 southern resident killer whales off the BC coast, Canada’s most endangered marine mammal, are particularly threatened by oil spills, as well as ship strikes and underwater noise that hinders their ability to feed and communicate.
If Trans Mountain’s Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion proceeds and an oil spill occurs, the study estimates it would affect between 22 and 80 percent of these whales’ critical Salish Sea habitat.
All marine mammals are vulnerable to oil spills because they surface to breathe. When seals and otters try to clean oil matted on their coats, they ingest it.
Unlike conventional crude, bitumen can sink if spilled in water, according to a 2016 study by the National Academy of Sciences.

Alternative Energy

World’s First Floating Wind Farm Will Power 20,000 Homes

World’s First Floating Wind Farm Will Power 20,000 Homes

Scotland has officially switched on the Hywind Scotland, the world’s first floating wind farm.
The 30 megawatt wind farm, operated by Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA and Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co., consists of five turbines and is located 25 kilometers offshore Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. “This marks an exciting development for renewable energy in Scotland,” the First Minister continued.
The advantage of a floating system allows countries like Japan, the U.S. West Coast and Mediterranean—where seabeds drop steeply off the coast—to also utilize the technology.
The cost of onshore and offshore wind has seen significant reductions in recent years, with the UK’s latest renewable energy auction dropping to 57.50 pounds ($76) per megawatt-hour, Bloomberg noted. “Statoil has an ambition to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to €40-60/MWh ($47-76) by 2030. Knowing that up to 80 percent of the offshore wind resources are in deep waters (+60 meters) where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, floating offshore wind is expected to play a significant role in the growth of offshore wind going forward,” Rummelhoff said.
Last month, Scottish wind turbines provided 846,942 megawatt hours of electricity to the National Grid, enough to supply the power needs of 2.25 million, or 93 percent of Scottish households, according to WWF Scotland. That’s 33 percent more homes than the same time last year, when wind energy provided 629,603 MWh, the environmental group noted.
#Scotland wind power has record-breaking month—enough power to supply 93% of Scottish households… https://t.co/I8pKxgGvgS

Conservation & Sustainability

Restoring Beavers by Plane and Automobile

Restoring Beavers by Plane and Automobile

Beavers are.
The two I’m watching are going into Duck Creek.
They’re making places for fish to go,” Brower says. Water flows in and out of a beaver dam.
Beaver dam analogs (BDAs) are man-made clogs on creeks created with posts, mud and willow.
For this habitat experiment to work, the beaver has to stay put.

Conservation & Sustainability

Scientists Press For Marine Sanctuary After Massive Penguin Chick Die-Off

Scientists Press For Marine Sanctuary After Massive Penguin Chick Die-Off

Scientists are seeking increased environmental protections after an entire breeding season of Adelie penguin chicks was wiped out in a key colony in east Antarctica.
Only two chicks survived the massive die-off among the thousands born to 18,000 pairs of breeding adults, researchers reported.
The chicks were also drenched by unusual rains followed by low temperatures, which caused many to freeze to death, according to researchers.
French scientist Yan Ropert-Coudet, who has been monitoring the colony with colleagues from the French National Center for Scientific Research, told Agence France-Presse that conditions are set for such die-offs to “happen more frequently” because of floating Mertz ice as well as changing winds and temperatures.
The breeding pairs in the colony then numbered over 20,000.
Krill, a major part of the birds’ diet, are particularly sensitive to ocean temperature changes.
As part of an effort led by France and Australia, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources is meeting through Oct. 27 in Hobart, on the Australian island state of Tasmania, to discuss creating a massive marine protected area close to 400,000 square miles in the area. Plans were initiated in 2009 to establish a series of such sanctuaries, but they have been stymied by struggles over fishing rights.
It’s the largest marine reserve on the planet, according to AFP.

Conservation & Sustainability

California ‘Horror’ Fires Kill At Least 40 People In One Week

California ‘Horror’ Fires Kill At Least 40 People In One Week

Fast-moving fires spread by shifting winds forced thousands more to evacuate their homes on Saturday as the death toll over the week rose to 40, with hundreds missing.
With 235 people still missing on Saturday in Sonoma County alone and rubble from thousands of incinerated dwellings yet to be searched, authorities expect the death toll to climb.
Some 100,000 people have been forced from their homes, including 3,000 on Saturday from the city of Santa Rosa, about 50 miles (80 km) north of San Francisco.
It is a horror that no one could have imagined,” California Governor Jerry Brown said on a visit to a devastated city.
For the picturesque Napa Valley town of Calistoga, now evacuated, the winds were a double-edged sword.
Fire officials said the Tubbs fire, between Calistoga and Santa Rosa, was about 50 percent contained, while another in wine country, the Atlas fire, was at 45 percent. But the Nuns fire west of Napa was only 15 percent contained.
The year’s wildfire season is one of the worst in history in the United States, with nearly 8.6 million acres (3.5 million hectares) burned as of Oct. 13, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Conservation & Sustainability

Thousands More Flee Their Homes As California Wildfires Spread

Thousands More Flee Their Homes As California Wildfires Spread

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (Reuters) – Thousands more Californians evacuated their homes on Saturday as fierce wildfires spread due to constantly shifting winds, and officials expected the official death toll of 35 from the week of fires to rise with hundreds of people still missing.
Sixteen major wildfires, some encompassing several smaller merged blazes, have consumed nearly 214,000 acres (86,000 hectares), roughly 334 square miles, an area larger than New York City.
Some 100,000 people have been forced from their homes, including another 3,000 evacuated from the city of Santa Rosa, about 50 miles (80 km) north of San Francisco, and another 250 from nearby Sonoma city.
“It’s an unwieldy beast right now,” fire information officer Dennis Rein said at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, the main staging area for the so-called Nuns Fire in Sonoma County, a wine-producing region.
More than 10,000 firefighters are battling the fires, which have destroyed 5,700 buildings and thrown California’s wine-producing industry, and related tourism, into disarray, damaging or destroying at least a dozen Napa Valley wineries.
“It’s cautious optimism but it’s optimism,” Negrete said of the Tubbs Fire.
Cal Fire had estimated the fires would be contained by Oct. 20 but may need to revise that date because of the winds that kicked up, Rein said.
The Nuns burned some 300 acres (120 hectares) near Sonoma, damaging some buildings on the outskirts of the city, McLean said.
The year’s wildfire season is one of the worst in history in the United States, with nearly 8.6 million acres (3.5 million hectares) burned, just behind 2012, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Conservation & Sustainability

The Bay Area samples what life is like in Asian megacities — and for some of its own residents

The Bay Area samples what life is like in Asian megacities — and for some of its own residents

As you might have heard, those of us who live in the Bay Area are breathing air this week that rivals Beijing’s, thanks to the fires raging across Northern California.
Maundu thought he might have to throw the sensors out, until news broke Monday morning of wildfires tearing through Napa and Sonoma counties, about 50 miles north of San Francisco. Within the next few days, all of us in the Bay Area could see the same thing Maundu’s sensors were telling him: Our air was unhealthy to breath.
The big health concern: Particulate matter carried by the smoke sticks to our lungs and can cause breathing and other health problems.
On Thursday, the air quality throughout Oakland was second-worst in the nation behind Napa, where fires raged.
The largest of the fires, the so-called Tubbs fire, which is primarily raging in Sonoma County, was just 25-percent contained as of Friday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The store has sold tens of thousands of masks in the past few days, struggling to try to keep up with demand.
“Yesterday morning was the big push, and then today has been even bigger,” the store’s general manager, Brian Altwarg, told me on Thursday.
She has a number of health problems, including asthma, and hoped getting a mask would bring her some relief.
And that’s an irony that isn’t lost on those living in West Oakland, like Margaret Gordon.

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Conservation & Sustainability

Restoring Beavers by Plane and Automobile

Restoring Beavers by Plane and Automobile

Beavers are.
The two I’m watching are going into Duck Creek.
They’re making places for fish to go,” Brower says. Water flows in and out of a beaver dam.
Beaver dam analogs (BDAs) are man-made clogs on creeks created with posts, mud and willow.
For this habitat experiment to work, the beaver has to stay put.

Conservation & Sustainability

Scientists Press For Marine Sanctuary After Massive Penguin Chick Die-Off

Scientists Press For Marine Sanctuary After Massive Penguin Chick Die-Off

Scientists are seeking increased environmental protections after an entire breeding season of Adelie penguin chicks was wiped out in a key colony in east Antarctica.
Only two chicks survived the massive die-off among the thousands born to 18,000 pairs of breeding adults, researchers reported.
The chicks were also drenched by unusual rains followed by low temperatures, which caused many to freeze to death, according to researchers.
French scientist Yan Ropert-Coudet, who has been monitoring the colony with colleagues from the French National Center for Scientific Research, told Agence France-Presse that conditions are set for such die-offs to “happen more frequently” because of floating Mertz ice as well as changing winds and temperatures.
The breeding pairs in the colony then numbered over 20,000.
Krill, a major part of the birds’ diet, are particularly sensitive to ocean temperature changes.
As part of an effort led by France and Australia, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources is meeting through Oct. 27 in Hobart, on the Australian island state of Tasmania, to discuss creating a massive marine protected area close to 400,000 square miles in the area. Plans were initiated in 2009 to establish a series of such sanctuaries, but they have been stymied by struggles over fishing rights.
It’s the largest marine reserve on the planet, according to AFP.

Conservation & Sustainability

California ‘Horror’ Fires Kill At Least 40 People In One Week

California ‘Horror’ Fires Kill At Least 40 People In One Week

Fast-moving fires spread by shifting winds forced thousands more to evacuate their homes on Saturday as the death toll over the week rose to 40, with hundreds missing.
With 235 people still missing on Saturday in Sonoma County alone and rubble from thousands of incinerated dwellings yet to be searched, authorities expect the death toll to climb.
Some 100,000 people have been forced from their homes, including 3,000 on Saturday from the city of Santa Rosa, about 50 miles (80 km) north of San Francisco.
It is a horror that no one could have imagined,” California Governor Jerry Brown said on a visit to a devastated city.
For the picturesque Napa Valley town of Calistoga, now evacuated, the winds were a double-edged sword.
Fire officials said the Tubbs fire, between Calistoga and Santa Rosa, was about 50 percent contained, while another in wine country, the Atlas fire, was at 45 percent. But the Nuns fire west of Napa was only 15 percent contained.
The year’s wildfire season is one of the worst in history in the United States, with nearly 8.6 million acres (3.5 million hectares) burned as of Oct. 13, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Conservation & Sustainability

Thousands More Flee Their Homes As California Wildfires Spread

Thousands More Flee Their Homes As California Wildfires Spread

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (Reuters) – Thousands more Californians evacuated their homes on Saturday as fierce wildfires spread due to constantly shifting winds, and officials expected the official death toll of 35 from the week of fires to rise with hundreds of people still missing.
Sixteen major wildfires, some encompassing several smaller merged blazes, have consumed nearly 214,000 acres (86,000 hectares), roughly 334 square miles, an area larger than New York City.
Some 100,000 people have been forced from their homes, including another 3,000 evacuated from the city of Santa Rosa, about 50 miles (80 km) north of San Francisco, and another 250 from nearby Sonoma city.
“It’s an unwieldy beast right now,” fire information officer Dennis Rein said at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, the main staging area for the so-called Nuns Fire in Sonoma County, a wine-producing region.
More than 10,000 firefighters are battling the fires, which have destroyed 5,700 buildings and thrown California’s wine-producing industry, and related tourism, into disarray, damaging or destroying at least a dozen Napa Valley wineries.
“It’s cautious optimism but it’s optimism,” Negrete said of the Tubbs Fire.
Cal Fire had estimated the fires would be contained by Oct. 20 but may need to revise that date because of the winds that kicked up, Rein said.
The Nuns burned some 300 acres (120 hectares) near Sonoma, damaging some buildings on the outskirts of the city, McLean said.
The year’s wildfire season is one of the worst in history in the United States, with nearly 8.6 million acres (3.5 million hectares) burned, just behind 2012, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Conservation & Sustainability

The Bay Area samples what life is like in Asian megacities — and for some of its own residents

The Bay Area samples what life is like in Asian megacities — and for some of its own residents

As you might have heard, those of us who live in the Bay Area are breathing air this week that rivals Beijing’s, thanks to the fires raging across Northern California.
Maundu thought he might have to throw the sensors out, until news broke Monday morning of wildfires tearing through Napa and Sonoma counties, about 50 miles north of San Francisco. Within the next few days, all of us in the Bay Area could see the same thing Maundu’s sensors were telling him: Our air was unhealthy to breath.
The big health concern: Particulate matter carried by the smoke sticks to our lungs and can cause breathing and other health problems.
On Thursday, the air quality throughout Oakland was second-worst in the nation behind Napa, where fires raged.
The largest of the fires, the so-called Tubbs fire, which is primarily raging in Sonoma County, was just 25-percent contained as of Friday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The store has sold tens of thousands of masks in the past few days, struggling to try to keep up with demand.
“Yesterday morning was the big push, and then today has been even bigger,” the store’s general manager, Brian Altwarg, told me on Thursday.
She has a number of health problems, including asthma, and hoped getting a mask would bring her some relief.
And that’s an irony that isn’t lost on those living in West Oakland, like Margaret Gordon.

Conservation & Sustainability

A Brief Field Guide to the Rocks at Blowing Rocks

A Brief Field Guide to the Rocks at Blowing Rocks

The answer is (of course) “c;” Anastasia limestone is a type of sedimentary rock that most scientists agree was laid down during the last half of the Pleistocene about 120,000 or so years ago.
Why do the Blowing Rocks Blow?
Calcium carbonate in the limestone is why the Blowing Rocks blow. At Blowing Rocks, the rocks blow because they have been eroded over time into wind-, wave- and rain-carved chimneys, ledges and shelves, sea stacks, caves, arches, blow holes and rocky pools.
It’s the blow holes (the holes deeper than 1 meter are also known as “solution pipes”) that are the namesake of Blowing Rocks Preserve.
Most of the fossils found in the limestone of Blowing Rocks are different types of mollusks, with a species known as “busycon” — a kind of whelk — believed to be among most common.
Exposed formations — like the one at Blowing Rocks — are very rare.
Which takes us back to St. Augustine, Anastasia Island, the conquistadors and the fort they built out of a local limestone they called “coquina.” It’s the Spanish word for cockleshell, after the fossil shells they could see in the rock.
What that has to do with limestone, islands, or quarries, I’m not really sure, but Anastasia Island eventually got its name from that chapel and its saint.

LATEST FROMClimate Change & Global Warming

Climate Change & Global Warming

Climate Change Week in Review: Week Ending October 13, 2017

Climate Change Week in Review: Week Ending October 13, 2017

This week saw a former Australian prime minister give a startlingly denialist speech on the subject of climate change, a

Climate Change & Global Warming

Maybe Hollywood doesn’t produce great scientists?

Maybe Hollywood doesn’t produce great scientists?

The term has given rise to a number of television programs which endeavour to expose whether phenomena seen in films can be replicated.
Mr. Weinstein is rapidly losing his endorsement by the Hollywood crowd, which he had brought to star status.
Want to sell something, anything?
Why should the public care what actor X has to say on the topic? Should they be swayed by what an actor says?
Hollywood can be said to be in the professional business of lying and suspending rational thought. In a sense, actors and directors are professional liars – they work to make seem real a work of fantasy.
So when Hollywood produces film showing Manhattan sinking beneath the ocean, or actor X steps out of character and portrays a scientific concern for the climate and attributes climate catastrophes to human activities, remember that they are both in the business of fantasy.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Dirty bird carcasses tell the story of how air pollution has improved in the last 100 years

Dirty bird carcasses tell the story of how air pollution has improved in the last 100 years

A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the discoloration of birds in museum collections can be used to trace the amount of black carbon in the air over time and the effects of environmental policy upon pollution.
“The soot on these birds’ feathers allowed us to trace the amount of black carbon in the air over time, and we found that the air at the turn of the century was even more polluted than scientists previously thought,” says Shane DuBay, a graduate student at The Field Museum and the University of Chicago and one of the authors of the study. He and co-author Carl Fuldner, also a graduate student at UChicago, analyzed over a thousand birds collected over the last 135 years to determine and quantify the effects of soot in the air over cities in the Rust Belt.
But when you look at pictures of Beijing and Dehli, you get a sense for what US cities like Chicago and Pittsburgh were once like,” says DuBay.
To measure the changes in sootiness over the years, DuBay and Fuldner turned to a novel approach: photographing the birds and measuring the light reflected off of them. Fuldner, a photo historian who focuses on images of the environment, worked with DuBay to develop a method for analyzing the birds using photography.
DuBay and Fuldner plotted the amount of light bouncing off the birds’ feathers according to the year the birds were collected.
“The fact that the more recent birds are cleaner doesn’t mean we’re in the clear,” DuBay notes. “While the US releases far less black carbon into the atmosphere than we used to, we continue to pump less-conspicuous pollutants into our atmosphere — those pollutants just aren’t as visible as soot.

Climate Change & Global Warming

UK and Canada announce global alliance to end coal power

UK and Canada announce global alliance to end coal power

The two nations have committed to phase coal out of their electricity generation – by 2025 in the UK and 2030 in Canada.
Canada’s minister for the environment Catherine McKenna and UK climate minister Claire Perry met at the Houses of Parliament in London.
This year, with the growing influence of renewable energy, the UK began experiencing summer days during which not a single coal station needed to be turned on.
“We still are going to get our resources to market in the near term; we are still going to use oil and gas,” she said.
The Netherlands will surely join after announcing their own coal phase out by 2030 on Wednesday.
In that country, coal still produces 40% of electricity.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Politicized sustainability threatens planet and people

Politicized sustainability threatens planet and people

Even worse, we are supposed to protect those future needs even if it means ignoring or compromising the undeniable needs of current generations – including the needs and welfare of the most impoverished, politically powerless people on Earth today.
Responsible businesses, families and communities practice this kind of sustainability every day: polluting less, recycling where it makes sense, and using less energy, water and raw materials to manufacture the products we need.
However, under sustainability precepts, we are supposed to predict future technologies – and ensure that today’s resource demands will not compromise the completely unpredictable energy and raw material requirements that those completely unpredictable future technologies will introduce.
How today is anyone supposed to predict what might be in store ten, fifty or a hundred years from now?
Who today can foresee what future technologies we will have … and what raw materials those future technologies will require?
Why would we ignore or compromise the pressing needs of current generations, to meet those totally unpredictable future needs?
And regardless of whether supposed alternatives really are eco-friendly and sustainable.
How would that in any way be sustainable?
Meanwhile, more than 1.2 billion people still do not have electricity.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Cutting through the myths about Irma, Harvey, and climate change.

Cutting through the myths about Irma, Harvey, and climate change.

Discussing Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and climate change.
JC: We’re getting a whole lot better at predicting individual storms. We don’t know how to predict that much in advance.
JC: We only have good satellite data back to maybe 1980. We don’t have long global records. But in the Atlantic, we have pretty good historical records, at least for the landfalling hurricanes. We have teased out a signal, of increasing percentage of category four and five hurricanes in two of the basins in the Atlantic and the North Indian Ocean.
DW: So are those who point to Harvey and Irma as being climate change in action, are they mistaking weather for climate?
There is this new movement to use climate models with natural variability, and then human-caused global warming, but these same climate models they’re using can’t resolve these extreme events.
We’re not preparing for the events we have now, or the events we’ve seen in the twentieth Century, let alone for the events that we might see in the latter part of the 21st century.

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