Don’t Feel Bad about (All) White Elephants

Don’t Feel Bad about (All) White Elephants

I rashly referred to a synfuels plant in North Dakota as one of Jimmy Carter’s white elephants. I say rashly because I said this to a member of Carter’s political party who immediately had to defend Jimmy (not James Earl) Carter against the perceived attack. It was impossible to get a word in saying that I actually liked that particular white elephant.

The plant in question, in Beulah, North Dakota was called a big white elephant after petroleum and natural gas prices started declining instead rising to astronomical levels, which had been expected after the twin oil shocks of the Arab oil boycott in 1973 and the fall of the shah of Iran.

But then, the price of oil collapsed, taking natural gas down with it. The government had less and less interest. Eventually, the plant was sold off to a private company and forgotten. But quietly, there were innovations.

Canadian petroleum operations wanted to increase their extraction efficiency. They knew that carbon dioxide helps oil flow better, and so it increases yields. The synfuel plant makes carbon dioxide (CO2) as a waste product. A deal was struck, and CO2 has been flowing to Saskatchewan since 2003. The theoretical concept of CO2 capture and storage has been happening for years now. It might be practice for the future, and a newsletter URL is below.

Likewise, coal-to-liquid fuel might really happen big time. Beulah could be a practice site for that. See below.

Finally, a working plant shows how it might be done in … Indiana? See below.

Possible similar plants in Indiana. Again, see below

All in all, white elephants do come through now and then. Considering that the world energy expenses are more than a trillion dollars a year, a few billion-dollar white elephants were good investments.

Now, the bad news, the profitable baby elephants from the North Dakota plant still won’t come for more than 30 years since the plant was built. Big energy changes come slow.


Popular posts from this blog

Radiative-Cooling Air Conditioning

2023 Climate Skeptics Conference: We’re Winning! No, They’re Not—But How they Could Win

If We Ever Get Real Hungry …