Monday, May 27, 2013


There is good news for the Southeast Texas area, as well as the world climate.  Everyone, except the dwindling membership of the Flat Earth Society, acknowledges there is global warming, in some measure caused by emission of CO2. CO2 is a serious by-product of crude oil refining.

More and more, scientific knowledge is documenting that CO2 has a harmful effect on the ozone layer which provides protection against the harmful radiation of the sun’s rays.

There have been some hot political debates which have become more and more acrimonious between industry and environmentalists as to whether or not there should be more regulation of CO2 emissions. High emissions from our various oil refining and chemical plants in this area have caused Southeast Texas to be labeled as a “non-attainment” area and serves as a chilling impediment to the location of new industries in this area.  

A project launched by Air Products and Chemical at the Valero refinery is good news for several reasons. The project plan is to capture CO2, compress it and pipeline it to West Texas--which means more jobs and an economic stimulus for the Gulf Coast area. Even better, their effort represents an economic payoff in developing a way to turn what has been considered unwanted waste into something profitable.

Almost everyone acknowledges that CO2 captured during a refining process--and not simply discharged into the air we breathe--is a good thing. The problem is that it is expensive to develop a process in connection with refining that allows the capture of CO2, and even when captured there's been a dilemma as to what to do with it. 

There have been several scientific findings and proposals, some of which do not find favor even with environmentalists. For example, science tells us that if we could simply discharge CO2 into the ocean deeps at greater than 5,000 feet, it would remain there in a semi-solid state and not hurt anything. I can only imagine the uproar caused should any company propose we begin pumping more CO2 into the deepest part of the Gulf of Mexico. There would be howls of protest from fishermen and other guardians of our seas.

Yet, while the debate rages in Congress and the State Legislature about creating government standards for  COemissions, it's good to see that responsible industry, on its own, is making progress in this regard.

It is a true win-win when an aggravating waste can be used to turn a profit. And, it turns out, industry and science in conjunction with federal government scientific projects have determined that CO2 is an extremely good way to extract oil from played out oil and gas wells...which, in West Texas, are possibly in good supply. 

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