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Elgin gas leak solution: mud and money

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A special ‘well intervention’ ship is on stand by to deliver, via no doubt extremely technical (and presumably expensive) means, the seemingly simple ‘kill’ solution of a mud plug.

The Elgin gas leak, an incident that has necessitated the addition of a brand new navigation button on Total’s global website, was visited on April 6 by a team of Total employees and specialist contractors who assessed how to bring the leaking G4 well under control.

The appropriately named Wild Well Control company said in a Total press statement: “We achieved our goals. Everything went as we would have hoped and the planned well intervention is achievable. There is certainly no showstopper to launch the well control operation”.

The leak was announced on March 25 when 283 workers were forced to evacuate the Elgin process, utilities and quarters (PUQ) platform, located 150 miles off the coast of Aberdeen. At that time, oil giant Shell moved 120 non-essential staff from its nearby Shearwater platform and Hans Deul drilling rig as a precautionary measure due to an expanding sheen of oil condensate.

And while Total describes condensate as “very light oil, like gasoline, that evaporates and is quickly dispersed in the water […] and very easily bio-degraded. Therefore its impact on the environment is quite limited”, we’d prefer that it weren’t floating on the North Sea. And given that the leak is costing Total an estimated £940,000 ($1.5 million) per day in lost earnings, we imagine it would prefer the whole debacle is tackled quickly as well.

Total confirmed that it has commissioned the Skandi Aker for the ‘dynamic kill’ mission. “[Skandi Aker] is our fast intervention well service vessel and she will be quickly on-site. She is being mobilized and we’re ramping up the equipment onboard and adjusting some equipment,” said Michel Hourcard, Senior VP of Development, Total SA, in a conference call update on the incident. The whole operation is costing Total a further £630,000 ($1 million) per day.

In fact, the conference call was in part to placate concerned investors: “We appreciate the level of concern in the market, so let me assure you that we believe we have ample resources to deal with this situation. We have a robust liquidity position with $19 billion of cash and cash equivalents on the balance sheet as of the end of 2011, and we also have undrawn committed credit lines for about $10 billion”, said CFO Patrick de la Chevardiere. Good job Total have been saving for a rainy day…

Meanwhile, a Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) spokesman said, “… it is vital that this incident is dealt with in an open and transparent way and the Government welcomes Total’s decision to make this environmental information available on their website”.

The Government has established an Environment Group to share information between officials and industry environmental advisors to ensure that environmental monitoring continues to be integral to the operation, just to make sure.

However, the thought of any degree of wildness from oil or gas wells in our fair seas is a deep concern and one of the reasons Blue & Green Tomorrow so enthusiastically supports renewable energy. As we recently reported on our new micro-blog, a “solar energy spill” is more likely referred to as a very nice day, certainly in the UK (and especially on a rainy bank holiday).

Investing in renewable energy tends not to suffer from the same environmental catastrophes. And it’s sustainable and clean, to boot. Ask your financial adviser for more information about sustainable alternatives, or fill in our online form and we’ll put you in touch with a specialist.

If you are interested in switching to 100% renewable energy at your home or business, we recommend Good Energy.

Further reading:

The Rise of Renewable Energy 2012

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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