Oily residue

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Bits and pieces about oil, Tulsa, and Oklahoma, mostly:

The Greater Tulsa Reporter is doing a series on the history of the oil industry in Tulsa and the surrounding region. All three articles to date are online.

Is it just me, or would anyone else like to see Bob Gregory's "Oil in Oklahoma" series back on television? That series was my first in-depth introduction to Oklahoma history.

OU Professor Danney Goble has made a list of great books about Oklahoma.

The Whirled reported today that Congressman John Sullivan wants to see a "megarefinery" built at Cushing. Cushing is the pipeline crossroads of America and is "a major crude oil marketing hub in the United States," according to an FTC report. The report also says:

A substantial portion of the crude oil trade in Cushing consists of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, which arrives from pipelines originating in Texas and New Mexico, and imported crude, which is offloaded from tankers on the Gulf Coast and transported to Cushing by another pipeline. WTI crude oil delivered at Cushing is the world's most actively traded futures contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). Prices for WTI crude traded in Cushing serve as a benchmark for the pricing of many other crude oils around the world and for crude oil futures trading on NYMEX.

According to the FTC, efficient and competitive functioning of the pipeline and oil storage facilities in and around Cushing is critical to the fluid operation of both the trading activities in Cushing and the trading of crude oil futures contracts on the NYMEX. Restriction of pipeline or storage capacity can affect the deliverable supply of crude oil in Cushing, and consequently affect both WTI cash prices and NYMEX futures prices.

It sounds like a logical place for one or more major refineries. And I must say I feel a bit of Oklahoma pride reading that a town in our state still is, in one respect, the hub of the oil industry.

There was an item on Dustbury last week about refineries post-Katrina, linking to Hatless in Hattiesburg's suggestion to replace refineries which were destroyed or disabled by Katrina with new refineries on military bases slated for being "realigned," and to Engine of the Future's suggestion to lift for three years the EPA regulations requiring different fuel blends for different regions, so that gasoline can be shipped wherever it's needed, avoiding artificial shortages.

Engine of the Future is an Oklahoma-based blog that was started in the immediate aftermath of Katrina. Blogger Mel said that US refineries had no excess capacity before Hurricane Katrina, and we lost 11% of capacity as a result of the hurricane. The remaining refineries have to crank out at least 17 different blends of gasoline -- including a special one for Tulsa, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Memphis, Nashville, Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, southern Maine, southern Louisiana, and several cities in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Be sure to read his inaugural rant.

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7 Comments

W. Author Profile Page said:

I agree that the myriad of gasoline blends that the refineries are forced to make is insane. I used to live near the St. Louis area, which has a air pollution problem much worse than Tulsa's. You'd have to pay more for gas within 25 miles of St. Louis because all the pumps were required to stock certain blends. But you go 45 miles outside of St. Louis, the gas was cheaper because the stations didn't have to buy the clean-burning stuff.

Here's a solution: Why not simply require the refineries to make the cleanest, least-polluting gasoline that's available? With just one type of gasoline to make, it would greatly streamline operations and drop the oil companies' costs.

Joel said:

Sadly the environmental barriers (groups and EPA regs) will never ever allow new refineries without an excutive order or perhaps the use of govmt. land ie the soon to be close military bases.

Mel said:

Cutting back to the "cleanest, least polluting gasoline" would ironically make the situation worse. I'm looking into some things right now where even the California Air Resources Board admits the following

An average vehicle's gas mileage will be 3 percent less with cleaner-burning gasoline than with traditional, non-oxygenated fuel.

The reason? The cleaner burning gasoline is an "oxygenated" fuel some actual fuel is replaced by oxygen (an oxidizer, not a fuel), thereby slightly lowering the energy content of a gallon of gasoline versus a gallon of conventional gasoline.

Even with the EPA regulations, most of the country does not need/require these specialized blends. A sizeable portion of our refineries are geared towards conventional gasoline only, so their effective capacity would drop like a rock. Going the other way with it, lifting the regs for three years, would increase the effective capacity even at those refineries that are geared towards so-called "boutique fuels".

If we mandated cleanest burning gas only nationwide, it would lower our effective refining capacity substantially, and vehicles across the nation would see a one to three percent drop in fuel mileage which would compound things even further. Note that the oil companies themselves estimated a three to four percent drop in average fuel mileage.

I'm not saying we run roughshod over the environment, or I would have said 'lift them permanently'. It took many years of public disinterest, corporate complacency, and legislative shortsightedness to get where we're at today. It won't get "fixed" tomorrow.

Right now, we need to take steps to stabilize the situation and provide time to get some things straightened out. Three years is my "Triage" period.

I'm still looking at oxy-gas stuff right now though. At this point, it does look like it was a colossal blunder in the name of feeling "warm and fuzzy".

Mel said:

Now, on to the "megarefinery". I alluded to a "Strategic Refinery Reserve" in my original rant, and finally got an entire segment written and posted a couple of days ago.

I do applaud Congressman Sullivan's thinking; up to a point at least he's on the right path. I do believe the economic implications for Oklahoma would be good. However, the thought of one reserve capacity "megarefinery" located in Oklahoma makes me think of a "megatornado" causing "megadamage" that is followed by another "megacrisis". Megabad in my opinion.

My write up throws out the idea of setting up five reserve refineries that can also operate in a way so that they can temporarily replace oil company production when one of their units has to be taken offline for maintenance (something that's been put off in many instances).

I do suggest Cushing as one of those five, but they need to be spread out.

susan said:

On our way to New York City this summer, we saw a lot of hybrid cars. We also saw some interesting windmills in other states. Boston was very interesting. They seem to conserve the use of gas by making it miserable to try to find a place to park with a car. I saw some of the New York Yankees in a hotel we stayed in. They piled in a car where up north they have lanes you can zoom through if you are riding with multiple people in your car. People driving all by themselves get the slower lanes.

susan said:

I received a call from Barry Switzer today to vote "yes". Barry said voting yes will send our money directly to our roads and bridges? Where is all the toll money going collected in Oklahoma?

profligatewaste said:

Historian Kenny Franks is the go-to guy as far as history of oil in Oklahoma is concerned. I have several of his books.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 8, 2005 11:16 PM.

Tulsa blogger makeover was the previous entry in this blog.

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