The Plastics Problem

1 minute ago, Douglas Buckland said:

Okay, so maybe YOU are not flaring, but are you trying to convince me that flaring is not a serious issue in these shale oil basins?

I just told you that pipelines have been built and additional capacity is coming on line.  I don't think the Bakken has any outlet for it's gas but the Permian does have good outlets and will not be flaring after this year, count on it.  

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8 minutes ago, Jan van Eck said:

Nope, it sure isn't.  Rather a shame, all things considered.

Which begs the question, "Why not?". I assume the price of gasoline in the States is roughly $2.50 - $3.00 a gallon at the moment. Even considering the cost of the converter, collection of the garbage and delivery of the product to a pipeline you would still be looking at a significant profit margin if your manufacturing cost is $1.10 per gallon and you have essentially a neverending supply of free raw material.

So why aren't people rushing to do this? There must be a huge downside which has not been mentioned.

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11 minutes ago, wrs said:

I just told you that pipelines have been built and additional capacity is coming on line.  I don't think the Bakken has any outlet for it's gas but the Permian does have good outlets and will not be flaring after this year, count on it.  

So it was a serious problem in the past and it is a problem in the present. None of the operators thought it necessary to address or design for the issue until now and apparently it will all be okay later.

Is that pretty much it in a nutshell?

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2 minutes ago, Douglas Buckland said:

So it was a serious problem in the past and it is a problem in the present. None of the operators thought it necessary to address or design for the issue until now and apparently it will all be okay later.

Is that pretty much it in a nutshell?

No, that's what you have erroneously concluded.  The pipelines are being built but the production has increased faster than infrastructure was completed.  At first they just built gathering lines to bigger main lines and some processing capacity to remove the liquids.  The early operators got commitments into those lines and later operators couldn't so they just pushed gas into the lines without commitments until they couldn't.  Then they flared.  

More capacity for processing gas got built and it was fully subscribed so even more was proposed and is in the process of being built.  I see you have about as much information regarding the takeaway from the Permian as you do about what feedstocks are good for petrochemicals.

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And you seem to have a pretty good dose of 'reality deficiency' regarding the total and inexcusable lack of planning and preparation for the gas produced by this shale oil miracle even though you were aware of the theoretical volumes which would be produced AND the ever increasing GOR's.

So to revisit the initial issue, the shale oil basins, as we speak, are having a difficult time getting their incredibly valuable feedstock gas to a refinery. Let's not discuss what may, or may not, happen in the future.

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31 minutes ago, Douglas Buckland said:

And you seem to have a pretty good dose of 'reality deficiency' regarding the total and inexcusable lack of planning and preparation for the gas produced by this shale oil miracle even though you were aware of the theoretical volumes which would be produced AND the ever increasing GOR's.

So to revisit the initial issue, the shale oil basins, as we speak, are having a difficult time getting their incredibly valuable feedstock gas to a refinery. Let's not discuss what may, or may not, happen in the future.

First of all, the LTO itself has a lot of naptha and you seemed to have overlooked that fact in your comments thus far.  The LTO is being exported because of it's value as a feed stock for petrochemicals and also because of it's value as a lightener for heavier oils.  Different refineries also use different types of oil.  Simple refineries which were also the most common 50 years ago can process light oil directly without much blending.  That is what we used to have on the gulf coast but the amount of light oil coming from Texas was declining so refinery conversions started taking place in the early 70s.  I worked on the conversion of the Exxon plant in Baytown in the summer of 74 and 75.  

Since that time the GC refineries have consumed more heavy oil but the new oil out of the Permian is much lighter.  When people first started drilling the deeper Permian in about 2011, they didn't know how prolific the production would be and of course no one builds infrastructure without there being a market for it.  Thus, there has to be some flaring while the infrastructure gets built.  Same is true for the oil, if the oil has no market then it won't be produced.  We may be getting close to that point with LTO from the Permian but we only got there at >4mmbbl/day of production.

As to planning, who do you think is responsible for planning and funding this kind of infrastructure when the business is composed of three different and distinct business segments?

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2 hours ago, Douglas Buckland said:

Which begs the question, "Why not?". I assume the price of gasoline in the States is roughly $2.50 - $3.00 a gallon at the moment. Even considering the cost of the converter, collection of the garbage and delivery of the product to a pipeline you would still be looking at a significant profit margin if your manufacturing cost is $1.10 per gallon and you have essentially a neverending supply of free raw material.

So why aren't people rushing to do this? There must be a huge downside which has not been mentioned.

There is no downside.  Lots of things "should be done" but do not get done.  To understand why, you need to involve psychiatrists or psychologists, all way out of my pay grade.  

The supply of scrap plastic is not only "free," they will pay you good money to accept it.  So you have this business model where the operator is paid to take in the raw material and is paid to dispose of the converted finished product  - the gasoline.  Nonetheless, we live in such a totally slothful society that we would rather, collectively, just landfill the stuff.  I can suggest some of the reasons, including:  no municipal official is going to issue a Permit for someone to set up what is in effect a Refinery in their town;  issues with truck traffic;  neighborhood complaints;  large capital costs; shortage of highly skilled labor.  Any time you have a great deal like this, it usually takes a war or external sanctions to get the players off their butts to put it together.  Sloth is just human nature, I guess. 

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On 6/18/2019 at 11:09 AM, ceo_energemsier said:

I think you are a bit offbase about US light crudes, condensates and ngls and gas, they are a perfect fit for petchem feedstock and some experts say that they are even better and "cleaner" than conventional petchem feedstocks, hence the massive billions and billions of dollars of investments along the USGC and countries buying up the US exports for feedstock for their petchems and value added products. About 5-6mil bpd of US shale oil is produced and how much is exported? US refiners have invested billions of $$$ to expand their capacities and refining capabilities to be able to process the lighter crudes and condensates being produced.

Recycling in the US has been a disaster and more of the companies that jumped on the bandwagon are no longer in business, recycling worked well for some waste streams not so good for others. I think there was a big big misunderstanding by the public about recycling in the US and in Europe when the "fad" was getting started. It could have been done better and managed better.

Overall, producers and consumers of plastics are equally at fault for the pollution that has wreaked havoc across the globe, convenience and low cost without responsibility.

How about taxing single use plastics before they are marketed and earmark that money to turn it into fuels. Otherwise burn it , as is, for fuel in a high tech incinerator/steam turbine etc. 

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On 6/19/2019 at 11:26 AM, Jan van Eck said:

There is no downside.  Lots of things "should be done" but do not get done.  To understand why, you need to involve psychiatrists or psychologists, all way out of my pay grade.  

The supply of scrap plastic is not only "free," they will pay you good money to accept it.  So you have this business model where the operator is paid to take in the raw material and is paid to dispose of the converted finished product  - the gasoline.  Nonetheless, we live in such a totally slothful society that we would rather, collectively, just landfill the stuff.  I can suggest some of the reasons, including:  no municipal official is going to issue a Permit for someone to set up what is in effect a Refinery in their town;  issues with truck traffic;  neighborhood complaints;  large capital costs; shortage of highly skilled labor.  Any time you have a great deal like this, it usually takes a war or external sanctions to get the players off their butts to put it together.  Sloth is just human nature, I guess. 

Yet we formerly shipped our trash to China or whoever world take it in landfills up to thousands of miles away. 

I like your ideas on converting it to fuel. Good ideas are often overlooked due to lack of good leaders with the vision and desire to get them implemented. 

Some methane is purposefully gathered from landfills and used to power trash trucks by those with fleets. It is cleaned up and used as RNG (remewable natural gas) which I have been calling biogas. 

https://www.epa.gov/lmop/renewable-natural-gas

Biogas https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N-TLMeHsKYBCirxS0vbqMGHpU2SmyLuCc7bqp8eYXVM/edit

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32 minutes ago, ronwagn said:

I like your ideas on converting it to fuel. Good ideas are often overlooked due to lack of good leaders with the vision and desire to get them implemented. 

Yes, I am constantly confronted with the overlooking of my great ideas, which happens notwithstanding that I am the greatest leader with the greatest vision.  What I constantly run into is this mass mental inertia in which society wraps itself.  That seems to be a phenomenon in just about every society, the only possible exception being Germany 1930-1944. Lots of great ideas were invented and implemented  (the Autobahn and the BMW sidecar motorcycle and the jet engine airplane being examples).  The leadership put that stuff into top gear.  The Germans also developed making gasoline out of coal, that got perfected, albeit under war pressure.  The Americans took the Autobahn and turned that into the Interstate, but that now crumbles as they were not constructed to German standards. The sidecar motorcycle has vanished due to lack of imagination. The whole idea of synthetic gasoline from coal  is gone, nobody even thinks about doing that. And I can write about it all day long and get ignored, the mere prattle of an old man.  Oh, well. 

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41 minutes ago, ronwagn said:

Yet we formerly shipped our trash to China or whoever world take it in landfills up to thousands of miles away.

Those landfills will be the gold and silver mines of the future.  Real Klondike stuff. 

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3 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

Yes, I am constantly confronted with the overlooking of my great ideas, which happens notwithstanding that I am the greatest leader with the greatest vision.  What I constantly run into is this mass mental inertia in which society wraps itself.  That seems to be a phenomenon in just about every society, the only possible exception being Germany 1930-1944. Lots of great ideas were invented and implemented  (the Autobahn and the BMW sidecar motorcycle and the jet engine airplane being examples).  The leadership put that stuff into top gear.  The Germans also developed making gasoline out of coal, that got perfected, albeit under war pressure.  The Americans took the Autobahn and turned that into the Interstate, but that now crumbles as they were not constructed to German standards. The sidecar motorcycle has vanished due to lack of imagination. The whole idea of synthetic gasoline from coal  is gone, nobody even thinks about doing that. And I can write about it all day long and get ignored, the mere prattle of an old man.  Oh, well. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer–Tropsch_process

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8 hours ago, ronwagn said:

How about taxing single use plastics before they are marketed and earmark that money to turn it into fuels. Otherwise burn it , as is, for fuel in a high tech incinerator/steam turbine etc. 

Ron, you would be fascinated by the technique used by the Sanitation Dept of the City of Montreal.  Those guys segregate plastics waste and then hit it with this special high-temp laser, running around 5,000 degrees, and that fuses the stuff into a rock-hard solid of chunks.  The chunks, roughly fist-sized, are then used as road-building material, basically a hard foundation.  As the material is inert, no worries about leaching into the environment, etc.  I think they dreamed this up internally. 

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16 hours ago, ronwagn said:

How about taxing single use plastics before they are marketed and earmark that money to turn it into fuels. Otherwise burn it , as is, for fuel in a high tech incinerator/steam turbine etc. 

That could work if there is no corruption and mismanagement.

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15 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

Yes, I am constantly confronted with the overlooking of my great ideas, which happens notwithstanding that I am the greatest leader with the greatest vision.  What I constantly run into is this mass mental inertia in which society wraps itself.  That seems to be a phenomenon in just about every society, the only possible exception being Germany 1930-1944. Lots of great ideas were invented and implemented  (the Autobahn and the BMW sidecar motorcycle and the jet engine airplane being examples).  The leadership put that stuff into top gear.  The Germans also developed making gasoline out of coal, that got perfected, albeit under war pressure.  The Americans took the Autobahn and turned that into the Interstate, but that now crumbles as they were not constructed to German standards. The sidecar motorcycle has vanished due to lack of imagination. The whole idea of synthetic gasoline from coal  is gone, nobody even thinks about doing that. And I can write about it all day long and get ignored, the mere prattle of an old man.  Oh, well. 

Yes we have got the coal to solid fuel conversion and coal to liquids for liquid fuels and petchem feedstock going on a commercial production volume later in the year by Nov.

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On 6/19/2019 at 7:16 AM, Douglas Buckland said:

If this is the case and it is so easy to do...then why isn't anyone doing it?

Seems to me that if you could collect free garbage, invest in a 'converter', make "the world's best gasoline" which burns cleaner than that manufactured in a refinery for about $1.10 per gallon, people would be lining up to do it! Just think of the profit margin! 

But that isn't happening, is it?

A company in Germany is starting their commercial operation soon or has already started it from plastic waste to oil/fuels

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17 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

Ron, you would be fascinated by the technique used by the Sanitation Dept of the City of Montreal.  Those guys segregate plastics waste and then hit it with this special high-temp laser, running around 5,000 degrees, and that fuses the stuff into a rock-hard solid of chunks.  The chunks, roughly fist-sized, are then used as road-building material, basically a hard foundation.  As the material is inert, no worries about leaching into the environment, etc.  I think they dreamed this up internally. 

That should be a major story. Our journalists seem to be extremely lazy, and not very bright or well educated. It seems that they read The Associated Press and just put their spin on it. That is why they sound so alike. 

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3 hours ago, ronwagn said:

Our journalists seem to be extremely lazy, and not very bright or well educated.

The big cities still have some serious journalists.  The smaller country papers tend to attract some serious flotsam and jetsam of the trade, those ridiculous fat women who are obnoxious busybodies yet have zero technical knowledge and even less interest to learn anything.  You get the most appalling rubbish in their stories.  And worse, they attract every disaffected grunt on the planet to write letters!  It is the downfall of democracy.

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On 6/18/2019 at 12:21 AM, Marina Schwarz said:

Solvable or not? From what I've been reading, opponents are being very vocal, politicians are being pushed to ban single-use plastics (commendable) but... demand is growing and will continue growing for at least the next ten years. The surprising thing for me was superlow global rates of recycling, especially in the U.S. Why is that? Here are some figures.

 

On 6/18/2019 at 1:33 AM, Douglas Buckland said:

Marina,

People seem to think that recyclers are people, who out of the goodness of their hearts, take in other peoples garbage and make it disappear.

The fact is that recycling companies are in it for profit, same as any other firm in a capitalistic system. Yes, they'll collect your garbage (after you segregate it for them), they will recycle what they can for profit, but that is never even close to the tonnage collected....hence the international waste trade.

I am with you 100% on getting rid of single use plastic bags and bottles. This can be legislated and mandated, but the most effective and long term method is education and awareness. Look at the clean-up of American roads and highways since about 1950...it works!

The LTO oil that America is now pumping out is not a good feedstock for the petrochemical industry and is problematic for American refineries to process, which is why it is exported. Granted the heavier crudes desired by US refineries are good for making plastics, but they are also good for producing all of the other hydrocarbon based products we enjoy.

Just a note, re-use is always better than recycled...where possible. 

 

On 6/18/2019 at 3:02 AM, Douglas Buckland said:

It is just reality on a global scale. Getting rid of 'single use' plastics and requiring each country to address their own garbage would be a pretty good start.

 

On 6/18/2019 at 3:26 AM, Marina Schwarz said:

Yeah, it would. Only a total single-use ban will make life a lot more expensive for those most vulnerable, unfortunately. Not talking about straws and crap like that but about food packaging. Although, I don't know, paper maybe the answer for a while until someone comes up with a cheap and non-forest-threatening alternative.

 

On 6/18/2019 at 7:14 AM, Jan van Eck said:

Just for the record, all plastics, and specifically "single use," can be converted into gasoline.  You can set up a Converter in each community and landfill nothing.  And you can toss in just about anything else that is carbon-cased into the Converter and end up with the world's best gasoline (or diesel, or jetfuel), which will burn far cleaner than the stuff cracked at an oil refinery. 

Society does not do this because society is lazy and managers, specifically government municipal managers, are mendacious and short-sighted.  Toss in that venture capitalists tend to be not very sharp either, and you have this mix of people that slide towards treating garbage as garbage, instead of another valuable resource to go exploit.  

Don't landfill it, sell it!  To a Converter.  (And P.S.  your gasoline from single-use plastics stream would be about $1.10 per gallon.  Put up a Converter in your back yard and sell that gasoline to your neighbors, make yourself the most popular guy on the block.) 

 

On 6/18/2019 at 6:32 PM, Keith boyd said:

The obvious solution to excess waste plastic.is to build more waste incinerators that produce electricity. There is simply too much plastic to be recycled, not enough demand for it. 

In canada cities like calgary have entire warehouses full to the ceiling of sorted and bailed plastic. No one wants it not even for free. Politicians dont dare dump it in landfills. 

Garbage incinerators are so simple and efficient. In comes  un sorted mixed recycling, plastic cardboard metal and glass. 

Magnets grab the metal, super easy and low labour cost.

Shakers sort the heavy glass out. Simple mechanical solution.

This is where humans would pick and pick at the leftovers on conveyor belts picking out the goodies and sorting into types of plastic and paper. Soooooooo labour intensive such a money losing operation.

Dont bother with it. Burn it all. Paper and plastic together burn it all. Scrub the emissions.

The energy is dispatchable which is wonderful news for wind and solar. It compliments them instead of adding even more intermittency. And it can be labelled "green" because it's literally anything other then oil. I mean it is but it isn't because leftist logic. 

 

It's looking like canada is going this direction but I dont think the liberals have the guts to propose burning garbage. Oh the horror it's so savage. Likely the conservatives  will be handed the torch on this one. 

On 6/19/2019 at 8:16 AM, Douglas Buckland said:

If this is the case and it is so easy to do...then why isn't anyone doing it?

Seems to me that if you could collect free garbage, invest in a 'converter', make "the world's best gasoline" which burns cleaner than that manufactured in a refinery for about $1.10 per gallon, people would be lining up to do it! Just think of the profit margin! 

But that isn't happening, is it?

@Jan van Eck is right: all plastics can be converted to crude/fuels/whateveryouwant.  And yes, it is happening.  The first examples of these plants are being built as we speak.  Once sufficient operational experience is gained, they'll spread around the world, consuming all available waste. 

Waste-to-electricity is also being done in some markets.  E.g. Germany can't produce enough trash for theirs.  I would expect waste-to-electricity to decline.  Why produce low-value electricity when you can produce high-value fuel? 

Obviously, this technology obviates single-use plastic bans because there's no longer such thing as a single-use plastic. 

Contrary to environmentalist screeching, the most "forest friendly" products are paper products: when there's more demand for wood, they plant more trees.  If you don't believe that, ask yourself why chickens, pigs, and cows are so abundant. 

 

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22 minutes ago, BenFranklin'sSpectacles said:

 

Contrary to environmentalist screeching, the most "forest friendly" products are paper products: when there's more demand for wood, they plant more trees.  If you don't believe that, ask yourself why chickens, pigs, and cows are so abundant. 

 

Yet back in the 80s when we had paper bags at the store they started putting out the single use plastic bags as the "environmentally friendly" alternative.  Paper or plastic was the question for years until they finally said no more paper here in Austin unless the bags are reusable but the single use plastic continued until eventually we had the city wide ban on all single use plastic and everything had to be reusable.  

It's funny how wrong they were about the paper bags and now we are seeing that single use plastic might not be so bad either.  The real issue lately has been the refusal of China to take anymore recycling.  That has caused a lot of problems in the US and other countries that were using China as a dumping ground.  The competition for China in that market was the cheap natural gas and plentiful NGLs available as feedstocks for plastic production.  That has completely killed the profitability of the plastic recycling business in China so they quit doing it because it just makes them a big garbage dump with nothing but losses to show for it.  

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48 minutes ago, BenFranklin'sSpectacles said:

 

@Jan van Eck is right: all plastics can be converted to crude/fuels/whateveryouwant.  And yes, it is happening.  The first examples of these plants are being built as we speak.  Once sufficient operational experience is gained, they'll spread around the world, consuming all available waste. 

Waste-to-electricity is also being done in some markets.  E.g. Germany can't produce enough trash for theirs.  I would expect waste-to-electricity to decline.  Why produce low-value electricity when you can produce high-value fuel? 

Obviously, this technology obviates single-use plastic bans because there's no longer such thing as a single-use plastic. 

Contrary to environmentalist screeching, the most "forest friendly" products are paper products: when there's more demand for wood, they plant more trees.  If you don't believe that, ask yourself why chickens, pigs, and cows are so abundant. 

Where I live, they installed a "waste to energy" plant with much fanfare and to the tune of over $380 million dollars. I inspected the plant as it was going in, and filed a formal complaint about how government money was being spent. Specifically, I called them out for having insufficient electrical power for what they were claiming. Of course my complaint was rejected because I didn't have "standing".

Fast forward a decade and we have a big power delivery problem (remember Enron? ), and people start writing into the newspaper asking about how much power "their" waste to energy plant is producing. FINALLY someone associated with the plant confessed that they don't have the proper high voltage lines going into the facility and in fact, have no ability to produce or deliver electricity whatsoever. 

Why is that, and where did did all that state and federal money go? Think Sopranos and you'll have a clue. 

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2 hours ago, wrs said:

Yet back in the 80s when we had paper bags at the store they started putting out the single use plastic bags as the "environmentally friendly" alternative.  Paper or plastic was the question for years until they finally said no more paper here in Austin unless the bags are reusable but the single use plastic continued until eventually we had the city wide ban on all single use plastic and everything had to be reusable.  

That sounds about right.  I suspect most "environmental" efforts have more to do with attacking specific industries than with environmentalism. 

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I am old enough to remember when plastic bags did not exist at a grocery store, that soda came in a large bottle that was returned and re-used. Paper straws that worked great in the short term, but overnight would turn soggy and start to disintegrate.....

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Anyone who's ever broken a glass bottle of vegetable oil will think twice before slamming all plastics as evil, trust me. 

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3 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Anyone who's ever broken a glass bottle of vegetable oil will think twice before slamming all plastics as evil, trust me. 

Honestly, I really didn't know whether to upvote that as "Great Response!" or "Ha!Ha!"  

In all seriousness now, I remind readers that all plastics can (and should) be 100% bulk recyclable by placing the plastic scrap into a Converter, where the material is converted into valuable gasoline.  That gasoline would be roughly 100 octane, need no MTBE, and you can dispense with the blending of ethanol.  Clean-burn plastic-scrap gasoline is totally pure stuff, and I see a nice market for ethanol-free gasoline such as for light aircraft engines. I anticipate a gold-rush of such plants getting built, now that landfilling is getting difficult (at best) and the Chinese have closed the doors to taking it in. 

I think the returns on equity would be spectacular.  Probably running at 100% per year. 

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