HOUSTON, May 5 -- Representatives of several segments of the energy industry approached alternative energy from various perspectives during an Offshore Technology Conference panel discussion May 4.
Ahmed Hashmi, BP PLC vice-president, group technology, said the question about oil and gas is not whether production has peaked but that it will. And the world, he said, must prepare.
Hashmi also said rising global average temperature and growing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, however incomplete science may be about their correlation of the phenomena, cannot be ignored.
He said the world needs more total energy, more energy choices, and more security of energy choices.
BP recently launched BP Alternative Energy, a company focusing on solar, wind, hydrogen, and gas generation power. Hashmi said the company has set a goal of cutting its carbon emissions by a total of 24 million tonnes by 2015.
Fred Palmer, Peabody Energy Corp. senior vice-Pres., government affairs, said about energy sources: "In a peak oil world we need everything, everywhere, all the time."
He said, "Global energy demand is young, but oil and gas supply is old," pointing out that 50% of global oil supply comes from 120 giant fields, most of which are about 25 years old.
The US currently uses 1.1 billion tons/day of coal.
"We need more coal: coal to liquids, coal to natural gas, coal to electric generation," Palmer said.
He said Peabody, inspired by BP's alternative energy ads, is promoting the idea that US coal can be turned into transportation fuels.
Oil sands, nuclear
Syncrude Canada Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Charles Ruigrok said Canadian oil sands can strengthen security of US energy supply.
He said that by the end of the decade there will be $100 billion of investments planned, under way, or completed in Canadian oil sands
The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board estimates Canada's established oil sands reserves at 177 billion bbl.
Regis Matzie, Westinghouse Electric Co. senior vice-president and chief technology officer, said nuclear power can extend supplies of oil and gas, which are better used for chemical production. He noted that nuclear energy can be applied to uses beyond baseload electric power generation.
Matzie said a nuclear technology known as the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) might be available for use within 10 years. The technology is said to enhance safety by using nuclear material sealed with a graphite matrix and using helium as a coolant.
PBMR technology will be demonstrated in South Africa, after which licensing is to begin there and in the US.
Matzie said promising uses for PMBR other than generation of electricity for the grid include oil sands recovery, hydrogen generation, and coal-to-liquids, with oil sands recovery having the "simplest and nearest term application."
Use of nuclear energy in oil sands recovery is possible as early as 2015, pending successful demonstration and technology licensing, Matzie said.