Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pickens packs house

1st town hall meeting on energy plan draws hundreds

Oil and gas developer T. Boone Pickens addresses a town hall meeting on energy independence Wednesday, July 30, 2008, in Topeka, Kan.

Oil and gas developer T. Boone Pickens addresses a town hall meeting on energy independence Wednesday, July 30, 2008, in Topeka, Kan.

July 31, 2008


Pickens packs house

Texas oil-man T. Boone Pickens brought his efforts to increase the use of wind and natural gas to Kansas today. Enlarge video

— With a salesman's pitch that combined patriotism and profits, Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens on Wednesday kicked off his tour to get the country off imported oil.

Approximately 500 people crammed into Heritage Hall at the Kansas Expocentre to listen to the 80-year-old Pickens say, "I think we are very close to a disaster for the country."

Hundreds more stood outside as Pickens' public relations team handed out pamphlets and postcards for people wanting to get more information on his plan.

Essentially, Pickens' plan is to increase wind-generated electricity to 22 percent of the nation's total, take the natural gas that is currently used to produce electricity and use that instead to run natural gas-powered vehicles. Replacing gasoline would eliminate the need to import oil from the Middle East and Africa.

Topeka was the first stop on what Pickens said will be a $58 million campaign. The townhall meeting where Pickens spoke briefly and then took questions from the audience looked like a major campaign event filled with local politicians and officials.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius introduced Pickens, saying, "We have a crisis in America. We are borrowing money from China to import 70 percent of our oil, much of it from nations who don't like us very much. And when we burn it, it harms our planet."

Pickens said that the days of cheap oil are gone, and that buying so much oil from foreign countries threatens U.S. security. He said some of America's payments for oil are falling into the hands of terrorists.

He said changing the nation's energy policy should be the No. 1 issue in the current presidential campaign, but said neither candidate is fully addressing it.

Pickens has been criticized by some who say he is motivated by profit because he has invested heavily in wind energy and natural gas. He said the first step of his plan is to get the federal government to create a market for natural gas-powered cars by requiring that new vehicles purchased by the government use natural gas.

But those listening to his talk didn't seem to mind that Pickens was looking at his bottom line.

"The only question is will this project double or triple the worth of his natural gas holdings," said Joe Spease, chief executive of alternative energy company Windsohy in Overland Park. "But bless his heart for the wind portion" of his plan.

Spease said Kansas should be following Texas' lead in building transmission lines to export wind energy.

"Kansas needs to work on public and private collaborations," he said.

KT Walsh, an artist from Lawrence, said she doesn't mind Pickens making money off the plan as long as it gets the country moving toward renewable energy.

"This conversation needs to be happening every day in the state of Kansas," she said.

Tim Basgall of Lawrence said he wanted to find out more about Pickens' proposal.

Basgall said increasing energy prices were going to create "dire circumstances" for Americans.

"There will be no discretionary income unless we get some alternative energy. We needed to start doing something 15 years ago," he said.

Pickens also said he supported more nuclear power, more drilling in the outer continental shelf and Alaska, and other forms of energy.


Ken Lassman 9 years, 10 months ago

Seems that Kansas needs to move ahead with wind Pickens or no. There is already a market for the electricity, and community wind/solar option where the units are locally owned and for local use would not necessitate a huge new investment in new transmission lines. The Pickens plan would bring down the price of the windmills I would think, so let him go ahead, and we would all benefit. But we don't have to rely on his huge vision to apply these things locally.

devobrun 9 years, 10 months ago

Tiny specks 20 miles away. Probably gas wells.It isn't brilliant. It is common sense, and it works.Brilliance is reserved for those who can't do math. "He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense."- John McCarthy

Jay_Z 9 years, 10 months ago

Drill here, drill now. Quit sending our damn $$ overseas for oil.At the same time, develop alternative fuels and implement them for widespread use.We need more people like Pickens promoting plans and acting on the huge energy problem we have. Congress currently isn't doing $hit about it, and I have no faith that they ever will.

tolawdjk 9 years, 10 months ago

Brazilian sugar based ethanol is brilliant!For Brazil.The logistics of transporting a hydroscopic fuel across the Atlantic to come into port at New Orleans, Miami, or Galveston only to have to be trucked across the US one tanker at a time boggles the mind, and befuddles reason.By all means, develop sugar based ethanol here. Both cane and beet are unique in that they have potential as both a sugar source and a cellulose source for fuel, and developing alternative markets for these agricultural products would go a long way to removing federal subsidies on sugar needed to protect the US sugar industry.The real problem here folks is technology. Cellulosic sugar...great idea that would go a long way to improving the use and value of marginal farm and pastureland, particularly in Western Kansas and shifting productive corn land -back- to foodsupply production...years away from fruition.Oil shale and Tar industry I am fairly familiar with. Realistically 7-10 years away from the technology curve and several years after that from large scale production. Folks, the off the shelf tech just isn't going to work. The location of the shale/sand is in Utah dessert. The Canadian process uses copious amounts of water. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that no ammount of Federal releasing of land for production is not going to solve it. There is also the infrastructure problems. The Mountain West does not have the current capacity to move crude outside the mountain west by anything other than truck. (As an example, Wyoming nat gas is at a reduced price because they can't get it to the broader market.) There isn't even reasonable rail within the Unitah Basin to transport it out by rail. Factor in issues like upgrading the kerogen to a grade able to be processed by the vast majority of exisiting refinery capacity...its still cheaper for companies to go after conventional sources. (Ex. Shell's on again/off again in-situ process in West. CO.)Electric cars...need batteries still -and- a smart electric grid for charging them so that we don't have widespread rolling, terrorist threat, fuel storageIs T-Boone's idea the best? I doubt it. But it is the first approach that I have seen that takes off the shelf technology and puts it into immediate usage, without years of design, implementation, and vetting.

Satirical 9 years, 10 months ago

There is no silver bullet to fix the energy crisis, and all options should be on the table. Cars are only part of the energy problem. We should drill for oil off-shore and in ANWAR to solve our short-term problems, and work on wind and nuclear for our long-term problems. Maybe eventually we can figure out how to reduce emission from coal.

tolawdjk 9 years, 10 months ago

Jaywalker,If Shell's process has gotten "better" its news to me. Last I knew of was earlier this year and that the project was being put on hold for a few years. Shell's situation is that their process is getting at shale several thousand feet deep. The process involves freezing the surrounding rock in a circle (1/4 -1/2 mile) and then litterally melting the oil/rock out to the point where it can be pumped. This process takes several years to heat and remove the rock and oil, and as you can imagine, is fairly energy intensive due to the refrigeration and heat needed. Some of the more viable but currently small scale operations right now in Utah involve surface mining the shale via open pit mines, then heating the shale in surface retorts. Its a delicate balance...too much heat and your ruin it, too little and you do't get full recovery.That is just to -get- the oil. And technically, its not really oil. Its more kerrogen or tar than oil. The product needs to be either coked, thermally cracked, or catlytically cracked to remove the heavier products and increae the H/C ratio so it can be put into a typical refinery. Most likely, if an existing refinery has a delayed coker it can handle some quantity of oil shale crude. In effect, you blend and enter your feedstock into the last 1/4 of your refinery so you can then process it in the first 3/4 of your refinery. Coffeyville, McPherson and El Dorado all had this process available last time I looked, although I have no idea what their existing capacity is.But that is the little guys. The big boys in Texas and California, places where light sweet crudes are easily available, may not have the capacity to handle this, and would need expansion. Conversely, upgrading refineries could be built to do the improvements prior to shipping to full scale refineries. All of this takes time...5-10 years if you started today.It's not just rail that needs to be built. This area is just plain wilderness right now. There are no paved roads. I-70 borders on the south, but north of that, nothing until you get to Vernal and -zero- paved roads running north south. Population is zilch with the largest towns in the areas averaging in the low to mid thousands with zero ability to handle an influx of new population without serious problems. Then factor in the fact that this area stradles the Unintah and Orray Indian reservation and numerous national parks and wilderness areas. Environmental impact statements, state, federal, and tribal permitting requirements...its all doable, but it needs to be done on a proactive approach to prevent unforeseen delay.Yeah, the rail can be there in 7-10 years easy, but the rail is just the tip of the iceberg.

KS 9 years, 10 months ago

Just keep drilling until we can burn the ocean water to run our cars. I don't think we would run out of that anytime soon. Use solar too. In reality, we need to do "all of the above".

tolawdjk 9 years, 10 months ago

Dear Logrithmic, Show me one solar/wind car that is 5 years away. Hell, show me one solar car plan that is more than a collage graduate school research project.Who gives a flying flip if Russia and Iran have the largest deposits of natural gas. The US has the largest deposits of coal and you aren't too keen on that either. In fact the only other thing that the US seems to have the world market cornered on is pissing and moaning and hot air, none of which have been demonstrated to be viable energy sources.You want an immediate change over on a "before noon" schedule. Gee, isn't that so cute. My two year olds want cookies for breakfast, but they ain't getting that either.Now, you have a couple options. You can either put on your big boy pants and have meaningful discussions with the adults about realistic and achieveable energy policy, or you can keep whining and asking santa for a pony. Your 15 minutes of "fame" are up.

BigDog 9 years, 10 months ago

The technology is there for various answers it is whether or not they are allowed to happen is another question.Is Sugar-Based Ethanol a Sweet Deal?By Rich Duprey June 16, 2008 Sir Richard Branson wants our cars to have a sweet tooth, as the Virgin Group billionaire entrepreneur has been advocating the use of sugar cane-based ethanol as opposed to one derived from corn. Considering the impact that rising corn prices have had on inflation, not to mention food supplies, he may have a point.Branson can rattle off his take on the economics of sugar-based ethanol at will:It's seven times more efficient to run a car off sugar than corn.It requires only $100 to alter your existing car's battery to get 85% of your fuel from sugar.Unlike with hydrogen fuel, you wouldn't have to eliminate the entire current fleet of cars on the road to switch to sugar-based ethanol.Brazil by itself could create enough sugar plantations to supply the U.S. -- without damaging the rain forests.

preebo 9 years, 10 months ago

Great event! I actually had an opportunity to meet Mr. Pickens yesterday after his speech, and I find him to be a exceptional visionary. It is refreshing to meet someone who actually puts their money (equally exceptional) where their vision is. This is a prime example of mainstream economics meeting with environmental responsibility and independence.

more_cowbell 9 years, 10 months ago

Town hall?I wanna see T. Boone go mano-a-mano with McCain on energy. A town-hall "cage match" if you will.Don't forget the Ben-Gay... uh, oops... Icy-Hot Medicated Sleeve...X-D

chzypoof1 9 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for claryifying the truth tola. Yes, we need to move to renewable energy, but we have to use what we have now...which includes drilling for oil, and building more refineries. This would have a direct impact, until we could develop the alternative methods we so desire....poof

tolawdjk 9 years, 10 months ago

Got that enzyme to break the cellulosic ethanol key in your back pocket, Monkeyspunk? As of 06'-'07 the U.S. Dept of Energy said that cellulosic ethanol was twice the cost of grain-based ethanol with 6 plants in some stage of production, 40ish percent of which were funded by the Dept of Energy.How many years is it going to take you to develop it?Most of the research I have seen has said that we are 7-10 years out in having the technology in place to get down to current corn based ethanol prices.

jaywalker 9 years, 10 months ago

tolaI'd read something on Shell's attempts at harvesting shale had taken on an innovative approach which was quicker and more cost effective. Also, the consensus (of that article) was that with the incredible amounts of shale oil available it would more than make up for the more expensive refinement. Is that not so?Also, don't you think w/ 7 to 10 yrs to become available we could build rail systems to implement transport?

fu7il3 9 years, 10 months ago

I find it interesting that he is selling switching to natural gas to run cars when he is a major stockholder in a natural gas company...

tolawdjk 9 years, 10 months ago

Sorry for the double.Auntie,Drilling makes exactly the same mess it used to, it just might make it a bit less frequently. Drilling as a short term solution is stupid and short cited if it is drilling for only drilling's sake. There is not enough reserves left within the US borders to have any meaningful effect on the world market at the rate the the developing world is expanding. Expanded drilling must only occur -with- a comprehensive plan to ween our dependence not only on foreign oil but on petroleum in general. Short term we have to find the ways and means to assure what reserves we do have last longer than currently projected. If ANWAR is supposed to have 10 years worth of reserves there, we need to find methods, practices, and technology available to make it last for 15 or more.Isn't that what your tax bill is telling you to do? Isn't that what you ask your elected officials and schoolboards to do? Do more with less? Tighten the belt and find a new way to skin the preverbial cat? Should we ask or demand anything less from an energy policy?Drilling because its marginally less environmentally damaging is wrong. Drilling because we have better and more effcient ways of using limited resources is the direction we need to be going.

JSpizias 9 years, 10 months ago

Hey folks, better take a look at a little history of "ole T. Boone" Here are some articles from a Google search of "T. Boone Pickens Mesa Petroleum scam' plus a recent cover story in Business Week. S.E.C. STUDIES PICKENS ON DISCLOSURE TIMINGBy FRED R. BLEAKLEY (NY Times)Published: May 1, 1985..."A Federal judge in California said last Thursday that Unocal would ''probably be able to prove at trial'' that the Pickens group had violated the law in February when it said its original holding of Unocal stock was for investment purposes only." Pickins From T. Boone PickensIBD Editorials ^ | July 14, 2008 The problem with wind and solar - other than getting the power from where it is generated to where it is needed, which requires transmission lines the environmentalists won't accept, even if they and the wind farms could be built in time - are their intermittence...."A Reuters story on Feb. 27 reported, "Loss of wind causes Texas power grid emergency."The operator of a grid generating 1,100 megawatts of electricity had to shut down when that part of the Saudi Arabia of the Wind died and forced consumers to pound sand." Oil Investor T. Boone Pickens Thirsty for Water Rights..."Pickens' new company, Mesa Water, has been buying up ground water rights in Roberts County, Texas - 200,000 acres in all. He says that over a 30-year period, he expects to make more than $1 billion on his investment of $75 million. (Which means he'll be able to buy himself a very nice present for his 108th birthday!)Pickens wants to take the water from the Ogallala Aquifer and pump about 200,000 acre feet of groundwater annually to El Paso, Lubbock, San Antonio, or Dallas-Fort Worth - for a price, of course.This price would depend on how far the water needs to go. El Paso would pay around $1,400 per acre foot, while Dallas would pay $800 and San Antonio more than $1,000." Will Be WaterT. Boone Pickens thinks water is the new oil-and he's betting $100 million that he's right Our governor sure knows how to pick her friends!

tolawdjk 9 years, 10 months ago

fu7il3,Why is it a problem to promote an energy source in which you are a major stockholder of said source? Due we complain about the CEO of Ford wanting people to drive Fords? Do we hate Steve Jobs for wanting to sell iPhones? Why does it seem that inorder for the teeming masses to get behind an idea, any idea, it has to be done on a purely altruistic approach?The man's vision is that nat. gas can act as a stopgap for hemoraging GNP out to foreign oil while the infrastructure is developed to grow and promote alternative and renewable sources. His plan is to shift energy allocation in such a manner as to allow a reasonable and managed approach to alternative energy without requiring a wholesale slamming into reverse.He's not requiring that individual consumers run out and buy alt energy automobiles, like some people are, but suggesting that if large fleet purchasers would make the concerted effort to require their fleets to run on nat gas, then that would have a positive effect on the price, allow that energy source to be diverted to a different purpose, and allow the nation to reduce its dependence on sources outside its control.But you know what, go ahead and don't trust him. Throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let's go back to the status quo of one side screaming "nothing's wrong" and the other "everything is wrong" and we can get back to doing nothing.

monkeyspunk 9 years, 10 months ago

Pfft, this is like getting our drugs from a different pusher in the same alley. How is this a good idea, really? Log is right, we would trade the Sheiks of the Middle East for the Gangsters of Russia. We need to develop and utilize the resources within our borders or at the very least within our own hemisphere. We should be growing crops that can be used for cellulosic ethanol production. Many of these crops can be grown on land that is not suitable for land usually used for food production.cough switchgrass coughThe government should come up with a prize system to award companies that reach certain levels of efficiency in the production of ethanol. We award companies that can create weapon systems that can kill more efficiently, how about we redirect those efforts?Award auto manufacturers that develop cars that can run ethanol with improved mileage over previous levels. A pair of bicycle builders can take an engine, some wood, and cloth and engineer an airplane BUT American automakers can't utilize computers and modern science to make cars that use ethanol more efficient. Give me a break. Motivate them, and they will create.While I applaud the desire to get off Middle Eastern oil, I think this is the wrong way to go about it.

JHOK32 9 years, 10 months ago

Ah yes, I can see it now......lying on the beautiful white beaches of Florida, hearing the tide coming & going, and romantically looking at palm trees and a hundred ......... oil wells. Great idea Republicans. Brilliant!

Satirical 9 years, 10 months ago

Tolawdjk:."You can either put on your big boy pants and have meaningful discussions with the adults about realistic and achieveable energy policy, or you can keep whining and asking santa for a pony"Funniest post I have read in a while.

jaywalker 9 years, 10 months ago

tola,Encore, my friend! Love it love it love it!"We can't drill our way out of this"Brilliant. We need oil for power. How do you get the oil. You drill.Yes, we need alternatives, but it's ignorant in the meantime to send hundreds of billions to the Mid-East when we have so much right here. 'But we don't want to dirty up our coastlines or ruin Anwar.'So we should use the Mid-east and let them dirty up their countries.? I thought the liberal mind-set was to worry about others. And doesn't Anwar have the ecological hospitability of Mars?'Est. 14 billion barrels of oil in Anwar.Est. 3 trillion barrels of shale oil in western U.S.Enormous natural gas reserve off the coast of Florida.We shouldn't drill in the Gulf because of environmental concerns, but China has something like 20 platforms out there? Lovely.Yeah, it sure would be nice if Joe Blow or the Pope would come up with an energy plan, but since Pickens is an expert in the field it's probably better to listen to him. And not the carbon footprint hypocrite Al Gore.

devobrun 9 years, 10 months ago

Money, money, money. Does anybody here talk joules of energy?Does anyone understand an energy budget? Yep, its like a money budget, but with energy. Revenues (in joules), expenditures (in joules), capital investment (joules), return on investment (J), It works the same way as $. This balance sheet of energy is fundamental to the evaluation of alternative energy technologies. It must be done. It doesn't matter if government subsidies of $ will make ethanol economic. Energy-wise it is a losing proposition. Wind, solar, ......, energy budget, Boone. Joules invested, Joules for operations, Joules of production. This is easy, folks. Demand an energy balance sheet for all new, alternative energy technologies. If the bottom line isn't black, demand better, or throw it out. No politics. Start the movement. Demand rationality, not feelings. Fix the problem.

Daytrader23 9 years, 10 months ago

Thank you T.Boone, making my stock more valuable everyday! Cha-Ching!

Ken Lassman 9 years, 10 months ago

Drilling our cars is the cheapest way to strike oil: increase their efficiency 20 percent and you have increased your oil reserves tremendously. KU's own Mulally, head of Ford, is trying to turn the Ford Motor Company ship around that direction, and lots of others would go that direction too if the CAFE standards would be raised to close off the escape hatch to producing more gas guzzlers. Why isn't this the patriotic thing to do? I can't think of a better way to support our soldiers abroad than buying a more energy efficient car. HumVees may be a way to thumb your noses at OPEC, but that only makes them happy. What will really strike fear into their boots is to cut back on consumption. Japan can't produce domestic cars that run on less than 40mpg--aren't we smart enough to do the same?

RKLOG 9 years, 10 months ago

Wind, sun, and, hydrogen. Therein lies the future!

Orwell 9 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, keep drilling. Sure. Put off our independence from the Great Oil Teat as long as we can. Divert more resources away from other solutions, so they'll cost more when we're finally forced to find and employ them. Meanwhile, pump out that carbon! Hell, it'll be our kids and not us who will have to survive the consequences.Yeah, keep drilling the feel-good quick fix. Except it won't have any effect for a decade, and even then it MIGHT make a perceptible difference. Meanwhile, let the oil giants sit on their existing offshore leases so they can run up the price on us. We need to give them more drilling opportunities so they can do that to us even longer.Yeah, that's the ticket.

JSpizias 9 years, 10 months ago

Check out Steven Milloy on T. Boone. I made reference in a previous post to a Business Week cover story on "Windwagon Pickens" and his machinations.From Milloy:,2933,395304,00.html..."At Pickens' behest, the Texas legislature changed state law to allow the two residents of an 8-acre parcel of land in Roberts County to vote to create a municipal water district, a government agency with eminent domain powers. Who were the voters? They were Pickens' wife and the manager of Pickens' nearby ranch. And who sits on the board of directors of this water district? They are the parcel's three other non-resident landowners, all Pickens' employees.A member of a local water conservation board told Bloomberg News that, "[Pickens has] obtained the right of eminent domain like he was a big city. It's supposed to be for the public good, not a private company."What's this got to do with Pickens' wind-power plan? Just as he needs pipelines to sell his water, he also needs transmission lines to sell his wind-generated power. Rights of way for transmission lines are also acquired through eminent domain -- and, once again, the Texas legislature has come to Pickens' aid.Earlier this year, Texas changed its law to allow renewable energy projects (like Pickens' wind farm) to obtain rights-of-way by piggybacking on a water district's eminent domain power. So Pickens can now use his water district's authority to also condemn land for his future wind farm's transmission lines.Who will pay for the rights-of-way and the transmission lines and pipelines? Thanks to another gift from Texas politicians, Pickens' water district can sell tax-free, taxpayer-guaranteed municipal bonds to finance the $2.2 billion cost of the water pipeline. And then earlier this month, the Texas legislature voted to spend $4.93 billion for wind farm transmission lines. While Pickens has denied that this money is earmarked for him, he nevertheless is building the largest wind farm in the world."

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