Keystone XL, a positive statement to changing global energy dynamics?


Great and comprehensive article, regarding the realities of the much debated Keystone XL project set to be approved by Congress. I have shared this across multiple outlets, however with little of my commentary.

The linked article contains a lot to chew through, but separating the political “folly” from the economic reality [highlighted in the image below], was what was missing from much of the discussions currently happening [2014 and prior] as the general public and media outlets are bound to move onto the next “buzz” dividing topic here in the U.S. of A.

BP "Statistical Review of World Energy”
The arrow missing “Keystone XL” would replace heavy crude from Venezuela with that from Alberta’s tar sands. Lifting the US Export Ban, would magnify a KXL arrow, while redistributing others in an effort to “unstrand” Alberta’s expensive and energy intensive resources.  Crude and natural gas (NG) pipelines [in the U.S. & Canada] have already been reversed or repurposed for tar sands crude to Gulf Coast heavy crude configured refineries.  Although, domestic crude movements are not shown here, the priority of the U.S. pipeline network switched from servicing non-Gulf Coast refineries and domestic consumer needs, to virtually “unstranding” Alberta’s crude to meet Gulf Coast refiners’ needs, forcing increased use of rail traffic to move light crude from the Oil Boom to Midwest, East & West coast refineries configured for lighter crude stocks.  Lifting the U.S. Export Ban is financial transfer mechanism, where higher value light crude from the U.S. will be exported to global markets willing to pay higher dollars, while cheaper light crude from the Middle East [Saudi Arabia] will still flow to the U.S. refineries needing that quality crude.  The “benefit” to the U.S., the margin between U.S. and Saudi light crude prices.  Alberta gains by unlocking their stranded asset [tar sands] and Gulf Coast refiners will not need to reconfigure refineries.  Venezuela does lose.  The American consumer, it’s a wash, global markets dominates in the end, and ultimately benefited by the global crude oversupply that happened 4th Quarter 2014.  [Added – 4 Aug 2015]
Who would have thought political stalemates, and the delays they caused only until the next political “changing of the guard”, would have such impacts as they are currently having globally. Time, as unprecedented growth in technological advances paired with the critical mass reaching yet turbulent deployments of renewable energy now proving their capabilities in this highly disruptive and evolving energy dynamic, is paying high dividends in exposing poor economic feasibility of legacy technologies, even as CO2 pricing struggles to gain global acceptance and implementation.

Legacy electrical generation technologies; coal, large hydro & nuclear, are falling under their own weight of inflexibility in demand response, costly and time sensitive project delays and a growing public and financial understanding of their long standing dependence on subsidies, an once accepted necessity in meeting “developed world” base load needs to fuel strong economies.

Although, the traditional proponents of large scale generation plants, such as the IMF, World Bank, China and more recently BRICS, have ramrodded legacy technologies down energy hungry growing economies, this is coming to an end as countries like Chile have stopped the race towards large hydro, and both Brazil and South Africa are experiencing first hand the realities of cost overruns and empty promises in their respective large hydro and coal developments.

The United Arab Emirates, although still building their once believed answer to electrical dependence for critical desalinization, just announced it is going all in with solar. Likewise, Saudi Arabia, deep in its battle for global oil market share dominance, likewise is considering the potential of solar PV to meets its needs.

While oil is faltering due to its advancing technological efficiencies and heated market share battles by the producer countries, global supply is exceeding stagnant growth in demand. The once considered inevitable demand growth is soon to enter decline as “developing” countries such as India or those in Africa find alternatives to diesel fired electrical generation, namely the combination of natural gas, wind and solar (PV).

Oil’s current struggles are likewise effected by the composite effects of consumer efficiency improvements and a growing trend toward electricity as a “do all, no need to think about it” energy delivery system.  Electricity’s growing prominence is not just fueled by the over hyped electric car or how the still unproven promises of battery technology will supersede legacy Grid infrastructure, but rather as an effective medium to fuel advanced heating and cooling systems, while meeting base demand increases for consumer electronics. The natural gas industry is doing itself no favors in ignoring the the small consumer market or advancing compressed natural gas to fuel domestic consumer automobiles, in favor exporting to an increasingly saturated global LNG market.

Too little too late for the global environment, if that is your primary concern with justifiable merits? Maybe. But there has never been a time in the history of humankind where all the disparate causes and effects of meeting our energy needs have aligned so perfectly to affect our collective challenges to moving beyond our conventional reality.

This article, and my updates of 4 Aug 2015, highlights some of the actions that have taken place without KXL.  The global energy transition has only become more dynamic and evolving faster since I published “Keystone XL, a positive statement to changing global energy dynamics?” originally in 15 Jan 2015.  I have written about many of them here, but there have been so many, it is hard to keep up!  Check back often, connect on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @HansWorldTravls, to learn more of all that is going on in the world of global energy.

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