Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Friday, March 10, 2006

NZ Could Be Using Fuel From Coal By 2012

NZ transport logistics reports:

SOLID Energy is investigating the feasibility of converting Southland lignite to transport fuels and believes the economics stack up when oil prices are above $US40 a barrel. Solid Energy CEO Don Elder says the technology is already available to convert coal to a range of transport fuels such as diesel, petrol and aviation fuel. It’s simply a matter of when it becomes economically viable for NZ to invest in a coal-to-liquids plant, which would cost upwards of $1bn to build. Elder believes the time has come, with oil prices now around $US60 a barrel and long-term forecasts for oil to go above $US100 a barrel. He says Solid Energy could have a coal-to-liquids plant operating in Southland by 2012, assuming the Govt and business gets behind such a project.

Long-Term Implications. Elder believes NZ needs to take a serious look at the long-term implications for the country of higher oil prices, given our heavy dependence on fuel for transport, industry and farming. Rather than importing increasingly expensive fuel from overseas, he believes NZ should look to become more self-sufficient. He says Solid Energy has six lignite fields in Southland, which would be ideally suited for a coal-to-liquids plant. From an economic viewpoint, it would make sense to build such a plant near the lignite source and Solid Energy already has a possible site in mind, although he can’t disclose it.

Off-Shore Success. Elder points out South Africa has been successfully converting coal to transport fuel for more than 30 years, since its isolation during the Apartheid era, and there are moves to develop coal-to-liquids projects in China, India, the US and elsewhere. He believes it’s a technology whose time has come worldwide, given escalating oil prices. He acknowledges potential opposition from environmentalists but believes this would be mainly over CO2 emissions from such a plant, rather than any adverse impact it would have on the surrounding environment. Solid Energy is looking at using carbon capture technology to stop greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, mining company L&M Group is also investigating the feasibility of turning Southland lignite into diesel and other fuels and an Aust company is also understood to be interested in a similar project.

-- ends --

Blair Anderson
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