Assuming an oil disruption... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Assuming disrupted oil imports:

Portability requirements are a limiting factor. Cars (et. al.) have to have gasoline, because it is a portable form of energy. So it seems to me that portable forms of energy should generally be conserved for use where other forms like hydroelectric, solar, wind, or nuclear-generated electricity would not work.

I have heard that work has been done on using coal in cars. But that wouldn't help, short term. Work has also been done on electric cars. Some are on the road, I believe. In the meantime, is there enough oil domestically available to supply our portable energy needs?

Alternative energy isn't used more because it is too expensive. But absent enough oil, couldn't they be set up, in conjunction with battery banks, to supply many areas that don't require portable energy, like houses (and instead of propane or natural gas, which are also portable)? Maybe it would take too long to refit factories to make the parts? At least the price wouldn't shut them out of the market anymore. And they would get cheaper as they were mass produced.

All the windmill farms I've seen in this area of the country (they're beautiful) have been built to defer some kind of environmental compliance by power companies, like when companies (in California?) were allowed to just crush old polluting cars instead of cleaning up their factory pollution right away. They bought time for their refitting by doing that. Is it that way all over?

-- S. Kohl (, September 18, 1999


My hope is that something will happen to start us down the path of using grain alcohol for fuel. A renewable resource, technology already exists, cheap, extremely clean burning and plenty of "zoom" - but the big oil compannies (I hear) keep squashing it. Last time I checked the only way cars engineered for alcohol were sold is to "fleets" - I can't even buy one. Sigh....

-- Kristi (, September 18, 1999.

Grain alcohol is not the answer. About the time that production could be cranked up, there would be a major drought, supply line disruptions, bankrupt farmers unable to plant new crops etc. so that the available grain would be desperately needed for FOOD for people. When it gets bad, it will be cost prohibitive to feed grain to cattle and red meat will get expensive and scarce. Maybe not in 2000 but odds are this could happen in 2001. It is also more expensive. Gasohol using corn is highly subsidized by an 8? cent per gallon subsidy now and can be up to 10 % of existing fuel.

-- Moe (Moe@3stooges.gom), September 18, 1999.

Oil industry's Y2K effort drawing mixed reviews

Reports differ on readiness, but consensus predicts resulting problems will be minor

By Patrick Thibodeau 06/07/99 Washington

Unlike the U.S. Senate's Special Committee on the Year 2000 Problem, Gerald Calaway believes that oil and gas companies will fix their millennium bug in time.

The alternative is grim. "If they're not ready, then we're all not ready," said Calaway, president of Calco Express Inc., a Green Bay, Wis., trucking firm.

Industry experts and analysts expect some oil and gas system failures when the date change occurs, but most observers believe the resulting problems will be short-lived. The Senate Y2K committee released a U.S. General Accounting Office report that said year 2000 repairs by the oil and gas industry are lagging. "It appears they started too late," said Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), the committee chairman.

Bennett and the GAO said oil companies are developing contingency plans independent of each other. They urged the companies to create a nationwide cooperative contingency plan. The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group in Washington, said a recent survey of approximately 1,000 oil and gas producers found that 94% will be ready by Sept. 30. "That's three months ahead of the year [rollover]. Three months is a long time," said spokesman Juan Palomo.

But three months isn't long enough, said James Hamilton, assistant director at the GAO. Electric companies, for example, have discovered that some replacement parts for embedded systems aren't on the shelf. "It might take four to six months to get a replacement piece," Hamilton said.

Gartner Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn., which has put the oil industry at "high risk," said it expects system failures. But 90% of the problems that occur should be resolved in 72 hours or less, said Richard Hunter, a Gartner analyst.

Mobil Corp. in Fairfax, Va., is advising business customers to "not go out of the way" to prepare for problems, said spokesman Don Turk. He said oil systems are already prepared to deal with interruptions such as those caused by natural disasters. Half of U.S. oil comes from overseas; Gartner is forecasting problems in top oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

I am subscribed to a print version of the Computerworld. In addition to this article they had a small box with facts about the industry. According to them US imports 50% of its daily consumption of oil. Reserves are around 550 million barrels of oil. If we will maintain the same level of consumpion should there be problems with oil from Venezuela and Arab countries all the reserves will be used up in approximately 100 days. Check the following link - it provides a lot of information on oil -- gasoline/default.asp .

-- Boris (, September 18, 1999.

Kristi, Big Oil doesn't squash ethanol. First it has been done in Brazil where they went to neat (100%) ethanol cars back in the late 70s and 80s. It didn't work. The Brazilians have gone back to conventional hydrocarbon fuels. The reason it didn't work there and won't work here is the concept of 'net energy gain'. How much energy goes into producing a gallon of ethanol? Answer= over 1. Its a net energy loser.

Moe, a couple of corrections for you: 1) the grain protein (glutten) is still available after ethanol is produced. You can still feed it to Bessie for red meat production. 2) Ethanol has tax subsidies of over 40 cents a gallon and it still can't compete with gasoline. What does that tell ya? Its a big net energy loser.

The best alternative energy is conservation. We can easily produce cars that get over twice the mileage (or with hybrids, 3 times). This would make a far bigger contribution than any alternative sources not to mention the environmental benefits.

-- Downstreamer (, September 18, 1999.

We have an optional 10% ethanol gasoline sold all around here. And an article in the paper a couple weeks ago said that the net energy gain on the corn was 25%. But I don't know how that was calculated. Anyway, negotiations are underway to get an ethanol plant in near here, so farmers can get value added to their corn and make a better living.

Ethanol shouldn't take away from people's food. We're really not on the edge, I don't think, when farmers are paid to leave so much farmland fallow so prices don't fall below cost. Ethanol is made from feed corn, isn't it? Feed corn isn't eaten by people, anyway. If there were a shortage of food, the first thing to do would be stop feeding the feed corn and so on to cattle and other livestock, eat the meat, and then get our protein more from plant sources (brown rice and beans, maybe?). Right now, an extra use for corn would be much appreciated by farmers, I think.

We only eat so much meat because we grow way more grain than we can eat, so we inefficiently convert it to meat and eat that in large amounts. But I guess people like meat, and it helps farmers find a use for their otherwise excess grains.

-- S. Kohl (, September 18, 1999.

S. Kohl,

"Alernative energy isn't used more because it is too expensive. But absent enough oil, couldn't they be set up, in conjunction with battery banks, to supply many areas that don't require portable energy, like houses?"

I will just tell you my experence.....We are in the process of going solar/wind. We ordered the set-up on March 10th, 1999. We were supposed to recieve everything with in one month. Well it is 5 months later and we just recieved the last two parts a few days ago. Now we have to line up a boom to get the wind genarator on the old wind mill stand.

My point is..... this doesn't just happen overnight. We happen to know alot about setting up this system, so we don't require an electrician. But most people would. They will be hard to find also.

If the world (or a large part of the world) shuts down, even for a few hours..... it will take a VERY long time to regain all of the momentom that we see today. IMHO

-- bulldog (, September 19, 1999.

A shortage of oil/energy should be ASSUMED. Over half of what the USA uses is imported.OVER HALF!!!! From everything I've been able to find out on this forum and from Venezuela's govt statements, both that country and Saudia Arabia are going to have EXTREME problems - not to mention Mexico. It's my guess that we will have rationing by late spring or early summer. My neighbor (who works in the oil business) made some interesting predictions the other day: First: Colin Powell and Elizabeth Dole will be elected(Pres/VP) Second: Fuel cells for power(cars,homes& businesses) will get a giagantic infusion of development and marketing money. Third: There will be tax CREDITS for people to convert to alternative energy sources in their homes. Fourth: The federal budget "surplus" will vanish. I tend to agree on two through four; don't know about #1.

-- jeanne (, September 19, 1999.

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