here for PDF format
for participants' responses to this summary
of Meeting with Jeffrey Eppink
8301 Creekside Circle,
Bloomington, MN 55437
Friday, October 31,
speaker: Jeffrey Eppink,
Enegis, LLC, energy consultant,
Johnson , chair; David Broden, Marianne Curery, Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland,
Jim Olson (by phone), Wayne Popham (by phone), and Joe Shuster
Context of the meeting--Today's
meeting is a response to a meeting the Civic Caucus held several weeks ago
with Joe Shuster, engineer and author of a book on energy, "Beyond Fossil
Welcome and introduction--Verne
and Paul welcomed and introduced Jeffrey Eppink,
president of Enegis, LLC,
Arlington, VA. Eppink
has over 27 years of consulting, technical, and analytical experience in a
wide variety of energy projects worldwide ranging from oil and gas to
geothermal to biomass.
Eppink has worked for Chevron Overseas Petroleum,
Inc., ICF Kaiser International, Inc., and Advanced Resources
International, Inc. and has been an American Association for the
Advancement of Science Diplomacy Fellow. He has a BS in geology from
Polytechnic University, an MS in applied geophysics from the University of
Southern California and an MBA from Virginia Tech.
He has given numerous
presentations to senior industry executives and government officials and
has provided testimony and presentation to the U.S. Congress and the White
House on energy issues on a frequent basis.
Comments and discussion--During
Eppink's comments and in discussion with the Civic Caucus the following
points were raised:
1. Key motivating factors for moving beyond
fossil fuel--Eppink said the
nation and world must move to other energy sources beyond coal, oil and
gas. However, his reasons are different from those given by
author-engineer Joe Shuster, who met with the Civic Caucus a few weeks
are energy security, economics (balance of payments), and climate change,
which override the question of whether the world is running out of oil,
gas, and coal, Eppink said. The USA needs to move to other fuels to
lessen its dependence on foreign sources because they produce security and
balance of payments problems. Eppink said there is evidence that climate
change is occurring. An increasing presence of anthropogenic carbon in
the atmosphere can be traced using carbon isotopes.
2. Abundant supply of oil, gas, and coal--The
world decidedly is not resource constrained for the near term for oil,
gas, and coal, he said. We are running out of conventional oil, but
there is a large supply of unconventional oil: oil sands, oil shale, and
oil from source rocks, he said. Natural gas and coal are not resource
constrained either. The Powder River Basin in southeast Montana and
northeast Wyoming could supply the nation with coal for more than 200
years at current rates.
distinguished between "resources", which represent the total supply, and
"reserves", which represent that portion of "resources" that can be
economically extracted with today's technology.
3. Geologists' estimates--Eppink
highlighted the latest conference on energy supply by the American
Association of Petroleum Geologists, known as the Hedberg conference, in
2006, (http://www.energybulletin.net/node/35312). Key findings:
world is using oil resources at a rate of one trillion barrels every 30
years. It took 140+ years to reach the first trillion.
the ultimate world oil potential remains to be produced (2.3-3.9 trillion
maximum level of annual world oil production is likely to occur between
2020 and 2040 and remain at that plateau for two or three decades.
--Achieving projected world oil production will require a massive,
sustained industry effort for at least the next 40-50 years, and will
require an accommodating political environment during a long transition
from oil to other sources of energy.
4. Potential of oil from source rocks--One
must be cautious about different terms that refer to unconventional oil
sources, Eppink said. He highlighted a big difference between so-called
"oil shale" of the Green River Basin in the Rocky Mountains and crude oil
from source rocks such as the Bakken formation of western North Dakota,
eastern Montana and southern Saskachewan.
massive oil shale resource in the
contains kerogen, a pre-cursor to crude that needs extensive preparation
before it is usable as crude oil. By contrast, the Bakken formation crude
is ready to be refined upon extraction.
formation contains about 300 billion barrels, he said. Moreover, other
similar oil-bearing sedimentary rock is present in Siberia and the Middle
East, with potential resources of more than a trillion barrels, he said.
5. Off-shore offers more potential than
if environmental problems in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuse (ANWR)
could be addressed, Eppink said, off-shore sources off eastern Canada and
New England probably offer more potential. ANWR resources may be small, he
6. Need for non-fossil-fuel sources--Eppink
emphasized that the prime motivating factor to find non-fossil-fuel
sources is environmental, economic (balance of payments) and energy
security, not supply. The marginal carbon that is entering the atmosphere
is coming from man-made sources, he said. He defers to climatologists on
whether the carbon is producing climate change, but since the earth is a
closed system, there is likely to be an impact. He also referred to
higher acidification of the world's oceans, caused to some degree by
absorption of carbon dioxide from man-made sources.
7. Potential of sequestering carbon--Eppink
said he currently is working for the U.S. Department of Energy on whether
existing power plants can be retrofitted to capture and store carbon
rather than release it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. A major
problem, he said, is where finances and technical knowledge in sufficient
amounts will come from to accomplish such changes on a large scale. Some
governmental support and policy direction is essential, he said,
particularly on questions of liability when large amounts of carbon are
8. Potential of algae in bio-diesel--Discussing
alternatives to what he called a "petroleum monopoly", which he believes
must be broken, Eppink sees great potential in using algae to produce
bio-diesel, an area that he currently is investigating. Because so much
more product can be produced per acre, the area necessary to grow algae is
but a smaller fraction of that needed by other crops that can compete with
food such as corn or soy. He and two partners are experimenting with
algae. He also is high on geo-thermal, tapping the natural heat beneath
the surface of the earth.
9. Potential of nuclear--Eppink
said he agrees with Joe Shuster about moving to nuclear power, although
Eppink doesn't consider himself an expert on nuclear power and has his
doubts that nuclear can be as large a part of the future energy picture as
Shuster believes. Shuster said he agrees with Eppink on the need for
bio-diesel and geo-thermal. A Civic Caucus member noted the importance of
more education of the American public on nuclear energy's safety and
10. Importance of leadership--A
Civic Caucus member commented that overall leadership at the national
level is essential to mobilize a commitment to obtain the technical
competence and the necessary capital to bring non-fossil-fuel options to
the forefront and to manage the industry on a national basis. Eppink and
Shuster agreed on the need for more training for scientists and engineers
in the nuclear energy field and energy disciplines in general.. Shuster
said he is urging an energy summit at Argonne National Laboratory to
recommend energy guidelines for the new President. Eppink said the
current presidential candidates, while talking about the importance of new
energy sources, haven't captured the scope of where action is needed.
Maybe a national blue-ribbon commission is needed, a Civic Caucus member
11. Support for "cap and trade"--Eppink
said he anticipates a "cap and trade" approach to reducing carbon
emissions, although he would prefer a carbon tax. "Cap and trade" is
described as follows, by Wikipedia:
A central authority (usually a
government or international body) sets a limit or cap on the
amount of a pollutant that can be emitted. Companies or other groups are
issued emission permits and are required to hold an equivalent number of
credits) which represent the right to emit a specific amount. The
total amount of allowances and credits cannot exceed the cap, limiting
total emissions to that level. Companies that need to increase their
emission allowance must buy credits from those who pollute less. The
transfer of allowances is referred to as a
trade. In effect, the buyer is paying a charge for polluting, while
the seller is being rewarded for having reduced emissions by more than was
needed. Thus, in theory, those that can easily reduce emissions most
cheaply will do so, achieving the pollution reduction at the lowest
possible cost to society.
12. Importance of energy sources that are
economically viable--Shuster, who advocates a strong emphasis
on nuclear, said he has been involved in the field of energy since 1973.
Any solution must be quantified, he said. After the meeting he submitted
the following comments on his position:
I use "reserves"
(known economically available resources at reasonable cost) instead of
"resources" (resources available at any cost). I and others believe we
are resource constrained particularly in respect to oil. When the U.S.
and the world run out of present fossil fuel reserves, nobody really
knows definitively where we will get enough to run the economies of the
world and/or at what cost. Nobody should be willing bet the future of our
children without more certainty. If it was so easy why aren't we already
taking advantage of these other sources? I want to know pretty accurately
how much oil is available where and at what cost. Every time I
investigate a new find, they never are as good as the hype.
With business as
usual, the world in 30 years will need 45 billion barrels per year to
carry on with a reasonable economy. If we find the maximum in Alaska and
the maximum I've see predicted for deep water off shore---this would be
approx 135 billion barrels, which would last the word between 3 and 4
years. The minimum is 30 billion barrels. Also in many places while the
oil is there, there is not enough process water available.
Why must we argue a
cap and trade scheme, which will be a book keeping nightmare, and be
another perfect system for politicians to manipulate?
Time to get on with a
behalf of the Civic Caucus, Verne thanked Eppink and Shuster for meeting
with us this morning.