May 17, 2020

U.S. May See First Oil Tar Sands Mine in Utah

Canada
Earth Energy Resources
Environment
mine
Admin
3 min
First U.S. oil tar sands mine to begin in Utah by Earth Energy Resources, Inc.
Written By: John Shimkus Alberta, Canada-based company, Earth Energy Resources, Inc., has qualified for a permit to mine 62 acres of tar sands in Utah...

Written By: John Shimkus

Alberta, Canada-based company, Earth Energy Resources, Inc., has qualified for a permit to mine 62 acres of tar sands in Utah, a state in the western U.S. It will mark the first tar sand to oil mining venture in the United States.

Tar sands have been a controversial topic in the energy world. Simply put, tar sand is exactly what it sounds like—sandy tar—similar to the stuff that makes blacktop or asphalt for roads. But if you process it correctly, tar sands can yield oil that can be converted to fuel. Unfortunately, tar sand mining comes at a cost.

First of all, tar sand petroleum extraction is an extremely energy intensive process, with an emissions footprint three times higher than petroleum produced from traditional crude oil extraction.

Tar sand mining also ranks as one of the most environmentally destructive mining practices in the world, right behind mountaintop removal. The strip mining process requires excessive amounts of water and leaves behind giant lakes of waste.

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However, consider this… Canada has been exploiting its own tar sands for years at a profit. In fact, Canada tar sands petroleum is one of the top sources of U.S. oil imports. With the ever increasing price of oil, and energy security on the line, Earth Energy Resources, Inc. and others like them are looking to any and all sources of petroleum, and domestic tar sands do offer at least a temporary solution to the looming oil decline.

Environmental groups, however, are appealing the permit in an attempt to block a precedent being set for tar sand mining in the U.S. Although Earth Energy Resources, Inc. claims that the citrus-based solvent used in the mining process is environmentally benign, skeptics still aren’t embracing the mine.

It does seem counterproductive to seek an energy source that uses more energy in its processing than it actually yields; but frankly, it doesn’t seem like much going on these days does makes much sense. One thing’s for sure though, the only way to get to the next phase of post-oil energy security is to use what we’ve got, and if that means tar sands, then tar sands it is. Sure, there are much much better alternatives, like Sapphire Energy’s “Green Crude” and algae-derived isobutanol, but these technologies will take a few years longer to reach viable production levels. I’m afraid to say that we don’t have the luxury of waiting, not when every aspect of our society, from food production to transportation, is reliant on oil. Until the “magic bullet” of a fuel replacement is at full capacity, we must—and this is coming from a cringing environmentalist—use the resources currently at our disposal.

 

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Ofwat
Utilities
water
prices
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.

The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.

Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.  

In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue. 

Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”  

There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:   

  1. Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps. 
  2. Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold. 
  3. Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice. 

Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.

"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."

United Utilities picks up pipeline award

A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.

The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.

“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.

Camus Energy secures $16m funding

Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent VenturesWave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.

As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.

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