Saudi Arabian price war with U.S. oil frackers

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Saudi Arabian price war with U.S. oil frackers

We’re seeing a high stakes game of chicken, with the Saudis and OPEC betting on the likelihood that American shale producers will feel the pinch of sustained low crude prices before the cartel’s petro-states do.

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There’s one potentially fatal flaw in that plan, however: American innovation. U.S. drillers continue to improve on the techniques that let them unlock shale in the first place, and the breakeven prices for various formations are dropping accordingly.

Dinosaur fossils found in Alberta oil sands

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Dinosaur fossils found in Alberta oil sands

One fateful day about 110 million years ago, in the rainforests of what is now British Columbia, a hapless ankylosaur lost its way among the ferns and fauna and ended up in the Western Interior Seaway – a massive open waterway that stretched from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The land-based dinosaur likely drowned, was swept far out to sea and soon buried in the sediments of today’s northeastern Alberta.

A spiked, armored dinosaur fossil lays atop a wooden table in a laboratory.

An unnamed species of nodasaur found in the Alberta oil sands. From Alberta Oil Magazine.

A map of the Western Interior Seaway from which the Alberta oil sands was formed. 100 million years ago, the North American continent was split into three landmasses:

North American landmass split into three parts by seaways 100 million years ago. The seaways form a 'Y' shape. The Western Interior Seaway forms the left part of the Y and the Hudson Seaway forms the right side of the Y.

From Wikipedia.

Solar power facility kills large numbers of birds

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Solar power facility kills large numbers of birds

“It’s a bird, it’s aflame:”

But once the birds enter the focal field of the mirrors, called the “solar flux,” injury or death can occur in a few seconds. The reflected light from the mirrors is 800 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Either the birds are incinerated in flight; their feathers are singed, causing them to fall to their deaths; or they are too injured to fly and are killed on the ground by predators, according to a report by the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory…

Once ignited, the birds plummet to the ground like tiny meteors; workers at the Ivanpah facility have taken to referring to such events as “streamers.” Observers witnessed “an average of one streamer event every two minutes.” The flare-ups also occur when dust or insects are ignited, but birds cause an alarming number of them. Last October, researchers from the US Fish and Wildlife Service collected 141 bird carcasses from Ivanpah over the course of just three days.

The movement towards Zero Liquid Discharge in industrial processes

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The movement towards Zero Liquid Discharge in industrial processes

Progress has been made in lowering capital costs, however. “When we started out seven years ago, we had a total installed cost factor of 5.0,” says Heins. “That meant that a $10 million unit cost $50 million after installation. Now, we’re on our fourth generation modular design, and we’ve reduced the total installed cost factor down to 1.8-2.0. A $10 million unit now costs $18-$20 million total installed. That makes produced water evaporation a lot more economically viable.”

Although the recession has had a negative impact on many sectors of the economy, ZLD has not slowed dramatically. In fact, industry analysts predict a cumulative annual growth rate for recovery/ reuse systems in excess of 200% over the next decade, of which a significant portion could be accounted for by ZLD capacity. “The economic and regulatory climate is such that ZLD or near zero discharge is going to continue to grow rapidly,” says Cornish. “We see great potential.”