Some more data on the Katrina Damage

Reading the post that ProfG just cited, and while much of it is new and of interest, there were a couple of things that I would draw your attention to with referenced information.

I am doing this "up front" because part of this article strikes me as being more than necessarily alarmist.  And while the situation in the intermediate term is grim, we need to be cautious in not overstating the immediate impact.  There were a number of refineries that were put out of action, for example.  We posted the location of those, and if you return to that map you will find that only about four remain in serious trouble.  

Further there are some controversial statements here that may be making more of the situation than exists.

While Venice is flooded, for example, it was a ringed levee town, and the levee failed, which explains part of why the area is still underwater.  However there is some suggestion that the river may have changed its bed and may now be flowing partly through the town rather than around it.  There are some photos here and from the the USGS which describes Venice thus
 Venice is the southernmost permanently inhabited area on the Louisiana coast and is situated within a ring levee on the Mississippi. The levee was ineffective during Hurricane Katrina. The entire town was flooded, oil field vessels and barges were strewn haphazardly, and huge deposits of wrack were left on both sides of the ring levee on the west side of town. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services headquarters for Delta National Wildlife Refuge appeared to be structurally sound, although the first floor was damaged. A newly constructed tool shed was crushed by a massive barge-crane, which apparently floated on top of the building.
The pictures that go along with that quote do show that some of the islands are not there any longer, as that article notes.  

The comment that the oil industry made the rock porous is not true.   Firstly the rock that the oil comes from is deeper, and secondly if there had been a connection to the surface, through which the water could go down and erode that rock, then the oil would have come up it several millennia ago and would not still be there to be exploited.  What the companies have done, on occasion is to drive passages for the rigs into the bayous, and, while I know just enough about this to be dangerous, it is my impression that this led to some of the increased erosion.

Since the sheriff of St Bernard Parish mentioned first meeting FEMA officials who drove down there by car (in a post I currently can't find) I also assume that the roads are returning to somewhat better shape, although there are boats and other debris that are still blocking the passage in places, and there reports that some parts are underwater.

Oh, and I posted the other day about FEMA buying Winnebago's.  Well it was not quite that way - here is the story from the Times Picayune

In an unprecedented undertaking, the federal government is preparing to provide temporary housing for as many as 200,000 people displaced by
Hurricane Katrina for the next three to five years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Housing Area Coordinator, Brad Gair, said Monday.

Work on the first of what will be dozens of mobile home communities around Louisiana will begin this week in the Baton Rouge area, he said.

"It may not be quite on the scale of building the pyramids, but it's close," Gair said. "This is big. We've never done anything like this."

He would not say where the new communities would be sited, but said most would be in Louisiana.

I believe, as do the folk who write to us from the Gulf, that the situation is not as good in the medium term as the Agencies are currently suggesting that it will be.  There remains serious damage to a significant amount of the infrastructure, and experience from Ivan shows that it will take a significant amount of time and resource to recover.  But, on the other hand, people are working very hard to bring things back into shape, and their efforts should be recognized as they succeed.
The German Institute for Economic Research (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung) estimates the damages of Katrina at 600 billion dollars! And they have no dog in this fight like others who might try to inflate the numbers for own profit.

These costs include reconstruction of infrastructure, illness, death and damages of agriculture and environment.,1518,373681,00.html (German link)

Latest MMS report (late today I note):

Mon Sep 12: Shut in was 57.38% of the daily oil production, 37.84% of the daily gas production in the GOM

Today, essentially unchanged:

Today's shut-in oil production is 846,720 BOPD.  This shut-in oil production is equivalent to 56.45% of the daily oil production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 1.5 million BOPD.  

Today's shut-in gas production is 3.720 BCFPD.  This shut-in gas production is equivalent to 37.20% of the daily gas production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 10 BCFPD.

The cumulative shut-in oil production for the period 8/26/05-9/13/05 is 19,689,905 bbls, which is equivalent to 3.596 % of the yearly production of oil in the GOM (approximately 547.5 million barrels).

The cumulative shut-in gas production 8/26/05-9/13/05 is 95.476 BCF, which is equivalent to 2.616% of the yearly production of gas in the GOM (approximately 3.65 TCF).

Very little progress today, again:

Today's shut-in oil production is 843,725 BOPD.  This shut-in oil production is equivalent to 56.25% of the daily oil production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 1.5 million BOPD. Approximately 35% of shut-in oil is as a result of problems with onshore infrastructure.

Today's shut-in gas production is 3.518 BCFPD.  This shut-in gas production is equivalent to 35.18% of the daily gas production in the GOM, which is currently approximately 10 BCFPD.

The cumulative shut-in oil production for the period 8/26/05-9/14/05 is 20,533,630 bbls, which is equivalent to 3.750 % of the yearly production of oil in the GOM (approximately 547.5 million barrels).

The cumulative shut-in gas production 8/26/05-9/14/05 is 98.994 BCF, which is equivalent to 2.712% of the yearly production of gas in the GOM (approximately 3.65 TCF).

I suspect that there are many hidden costs which we will find out about soon enough. The talking heads will try to put positive spin on it, as usual. That's probably for the best, the last thing we need is a herd mentality leading to panic. It may yet come to pass that we see panic this winter regarding gas and heating oil. Else, we could see it next spring if there is a worldwide fertilizer shortage. Let's cross our fingers and hope that it's not as bad as we fear.

In the short term we need to fix the pipelines that have been damaged, get the refineries going at full steam, and repair whichever rigs or platforms we can salvage. In the long term we really need to look at whether it makes sense to have so much critical infrastructure clustered together geographically. It also wouldn't hurt to streamline the permit process for new refineries and mandate that a certain percentage of profit (capped at a high amount) goes into refinery creation. The oil industry can absorb the costs with little problem. If there is no peak emminent, according to the government, they shouldn't have a problem with it... right? (I'm being facetious)

I just read the article and it strikes me as extremely fast and loose with the facts. Eg the US has not been a major exporter of fertilizer for some time - our high natural gas prices had caused us to import fertilizer already, and Katrina is just going to lead to more of the same. I do not think the author of that piece is a reliable source of information.

In good news, Brown resigned and the President appointed a replacement who actually has relevant experience.

Yeah I read that other article.  Sounded like it was going to start out OK but by the time I was a few paragraphs into it I was afraid that I'd stumbled into
Whether the article is right or not will become obvious in a matter of weeks.  The 15% shortage of distillates seems reasonable, taking into account the downtime of the restarting refineries and the fact that 4 are out for a while.  The 50% natural gas does not; but if it is true we will be seeing gas rationing and power blackouts in a very short time (and probably riots soon after).  So we'll know one way or the other pretty quick.

Regarding natural gas, I suppose it is fortunate that people cannot hoard it in the same way that people could hoard gasoline...

I don't see blackouts - not permenant ones anyways.  Rolling blackouts perhaps.

With natural gas prices where they are, I see utilities trying to use less of it if they can..

If utilities don't have e.g. coal-fired or nuclear plants, what can THEY do to save fuel?  Their consumption depends on demand, plus or minus what they can buy from others.

Demand is something that can be managed.  This would be a good time to:

  1. Put a tax on non-auto, non-battery lightbulbs by wattage.  Five cents a watt would make it VERY attractive to convert that power-sucking incandescent to CF when it burns out.  Every CF means demand destroyed and fuel saved.
  2. Tax electric space heaters similarly.
  3. Prohibit sales of inefficient refrigerators and freezers; use wattage taxes to subsidize the most efficient models with trade-in of an older unit.  Every old fridge replaced is demand destroyed.

There are a lot of other things you could do, but they work at the level of lifestyle changes rather than government initiative.
I agree 100% with this approach.  And think there should be a concerted effort at State and Federal level to inflence (i.e. reduce)consumption as we try to bring supply back.

My understanding is that most utilities have a variety of generating plants.  Some coal, some natural gas, and perhaps some nuclear.  A coal plant doesn't adjust to demand very quickly, so what utilities tend to do is use the coal plants for the baseline electricity requirements.  Natural gas can come on quite quickly, so the utilities tend to use natural gas to balance the load throughout the day.

In general natural gas is more expensive than coal (even before this latest runup), so it is unlikely that there would be many utilities that would exclusively use natual gas unless they didn't have good supplies of anything else.

If a utility wanted to cut back on natural gas, they could burn more coal, but they would run the risk of wasting energy if they ended up burning too much at some point during the day.  Ideally what you would want is to smooth out the demand throughout the day as best you can.

Considering the likely costs of coal vs NG this winter, the economical choice will likely be increasing the coal powered baseline where possible and relying less on NG peaking. From a peak energy perspective, this is not good, but from a humanitarian perspective, I'm all for it.

In many ways solar is the perfect replacement for the natural gas that is used for peaking electricity needs.  The peak of the solar is about the same time of the day as peak electrical usage (especially in the summer).  Not that any of this will help us this winter though..

There was the thing in the news that in California they were going to start building a solar-thermal generating plant.  My recollection was that when built out, it would be 800MW capacity.  In this case they are using a design that uses a Stirling engine.

Simmons (among others) has said for years that the NG market is getting tighter due to production declines.  It is made worse by several new electric plants that use NG to supply peak electricity.  It's cleaner than coal, of course.  I know in Texas they haven't built a new coal plant in years but have added a lot of capacity in the form of natural gas.

The fact that we have been paying all summer long prices for natural gas that usually only come about in December - February should be cause for enough alarm.  Katrina can't make this situation any better, can it?

FWIW - San Antonio is building a new coal plant on Calaveras Lake
See this press release for more details:

This new plant of 300 to 900 MW is actually the second major solar plant from this company. Last month they announced a 500 to 850 MW plant. Should be pretty spectacular to see these operating.

As I posted in response to the (bogus) original article their statistic showing 15% of refining capacity offline for an extended period is certainly wrong.  Every other source indicates that about 5% of US refining capacity will be offline for months.  This is still cause for concern, but it is likely to be made up for by increased imports of distillates, backed by higher prices worldwide.

Regarding distillates, my concern would be the supply of home heating oil, the main source of heat for much of the Northeast US.  With the government (in its usual short-sighted way) pushing refineries to make more gasoline, we could be facing a heating oil shortage by winter.

An even bigger concern is natural gas.  It is certainly wrong that 50% of US natural gas supply is lost.  The latest numbers show 38% of supply from the GOM "shut in."  The GOM and bordering states supply a little more than half of US natural gas production, but the US imports around 14% of its natural gas supply (mainly from Canada), so the loss from the GOM accounts for around 16% of the total US natural gas supply.

This is serious enough and could lead to skyrocketing prices for natural gas during the winter heating season, along with electricity prices rising a little less steeply.

A lot of people will be forced to wear winter clothes indoors this winter.

As I posted just after Katrina hit(
the damage was certainly worse than the authorities and mass media were reporting.

Part of my comment:
"I suspect there was a lot of undersea earth movement associated with the storm surge brought by Katrina.  Ivan cause a lot of undersea mudslides and I predict Katrina has done worse damage.  Clearly the more remote parts of the coast are totally destroyed.  Conventional news coverage started out assuming no knowledge meant things must be OK.  I see that has changed throughout the day.  Having been through major flood events in the midwest in the 90's I can tell you the damage can't be known until the water goes away."

In the abscence of accurate information (and sometimes completely wrong information) the void will be filled with speculation.  I agree we don't want panic, but there is a difference between providing factual information (which TOD strives for) and disinformation.  I personally think it is okay to say "we don't know but are checking because we assume there is some major damage".  Many people don't subscribe to this approach because it might cause panic.  I don't agree with all the doom and gloom postings either but there is clearly a solid middle ground of infrastructure destruction (including landmass) that is not getting to the public.

If the U.S. government is trying to put the best spin on things to control public fears, they do this at their own peril if an energy shortage is truly looming this winter.  IMO people handle bad news better than being lied to.  Then again the lack of inaccuracy might just be incompetence or ineptness.

At the end of my post should have read "lack of accuracy" not inaccuracy.  I need more coffee!
The EIA reported yesterday the status of supplies post Katrina.  There were two interesting points, especially for those of us who live in the NY/NJ area; the Colonial pipeline is up and running at full capacity but there could be a supply issue because of the damaged refineries.  Once the Colonial pipeline was opened (Sept.3), there is approximately 20 days worth of inventory in the pipeline.  So, unless the refineries are brought back up to production (unlikely) or we get EU's stockpiles of gasoline (approximately 340,000 per day for 30 days to cover a shortage of 850,000 per day due to shut-in), I can't see how we won't have some serious supply issues.

The natural gas will be more precarious.  The Tennessee Gas Pipeline (which services the area that I live, Orange County, NY -- just this summer they replaced the existing pipe with a new pipe -- it runs less than one mile from my house) and Southern Natural Gas (not sure where this runs) both reported damage.  There is currently 700 million cubic feet per day of shut in on TGP and 550 MMcfld on SNG with no indication as to when they will be back in full production.  

Som political noise appearing on the issue: AP via NY times.

"Senior Bush administration officials touring the Gulf Coast area expressed concern today about possible shortages of natural gas, saying that the region's production may not recover for months, The A.P. reported.

The energy secretary, Samuel W. Bodman, said there is less known about the damage to the natural gas supply system than about the effect on crude oil production, it said. He said in addition to possible pipeline damage, the hurricane also shut down gas processing facilities on-shore, the agency said."

This administration rarely signals that any situation could be difficult. The fact that they are giving a warning on natural gas means either 1) they've been chastened by the Katrina response problems, and are being cautious or 2) they are worried, at least about price spikes. Or both.