Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oklahoma finds lead exposure in children of oil field workers

Four children were exposed to lead poisoning through threading compound that was brought home on the clothing of their parents, oil field workers, reports the Oklahoma Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (OCLPP).

Commonly called pipe dope, some types of threading compound contain 30-60% lead. The Oklahoma State Department of Health said three oil field workers left drilling sites and laundered their work clothes at home. Two of the four children were siblings.

“There could be more undocumented cases as a result of oil field workers taking lead home,” said Fahad Khan, OCLPPP surveillance coordinator. “Given the health hazards associated with pipe dope containing lead, employers and worksites should also consider effective alternative options like lead-free biodegradable pipe dopes or dope-free connections.”

The Oklahoma lead exposure cases involved children ranging in age from 6-22 months during 2006-09. Blood lead tests documented their exposure.

Environmental lead levels were documented in the clothes, shoes, and furniture of their parents, indicating “take-home” lead exposure. Elevated environmental lead levels also were found inside washing machines used to launder family clothing and work clothing.

Health department officials recommend oil field workers do not enter their homes until they have taken showers and changed into clean clothes and shoes. A worker dressed in work clothes should not pick up a child, and work clothes should be kept separate from family clothing.

US Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards call for employers to provide for the cleaning of protective work clothing to prevent lead dispersion. The OCLPPP recommends employers and worksite mangers work with the Oklahoma Department of Labor’s Safety Pays OSHA Consultation Division and the Mid-Continent Exploration & Production Safety Network to ensure that exposure of lead in pipe dopes does not extend beyond the work site.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Baker Institute studies wind, fossil fuel power generation

US wind power generating capacity primarily has displaced natural gas-fired generation so far, yet a recent study by the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University concludes that increased wind-generation capacity is likely to result in more investment in gas-fired generation capacity.

“A number of studies have shown that the expansion of wind has thus far displaced natural gas more than coal,” said a study entitled “Wind Power in the United States: Prospects and Consequences” by Peter R. Hartley, a Rice economics professor and scholar of energy economics for the Baker Institute.

But he sees this as being a short-term situation because gas is a good complement to renewable sources that are highly variable.

“In the longer run, the intermittency of wind and the fact that wind generation satisfies base-load demand more than intermediate or peaking loads should discourage investment in base-load coal and nuclear capacity,” he said.

Wind power generating capacity installed in the US has grown at about 30%/year since 2000, he said. US wind generation currently is concentrated in Texas and the Midwest.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nigerian Oil Minister is first woman OPEC minister

Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke has scheduled an Oct. 14 gathering with the media at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in Vienna. She is the first woman OPEC minister although women, including Kuwait’s Siham Razzouqi, previously have led national delegations at OPEC meetings.

Alison-Madueke has had her work cut out for her since she was appointed Nigeria’s oil minister earlier this year.

While visiting the Baker Institute at Rice University in Houston recently, she acknowledged the energy business is undergoing rapid changes, particularly in its response to environmental concerns and regulations.

During the OPEC meeting, she is expected to push for a larger oil quota for Nigeria. Meanwhile at home, Alison-Madueke is responsible for implementing her government’s plan to provide 10% of petroleum revenue to communities in the Niger Delta, her home region.

She told OGJ that she believes the administration of Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan had made some headway in reducing hostility by militants toward international oil companies. Saying she understands the views of both international oil companies and Nigeria’s citizens, Alison-Madueke said she advocates an open dialogue between both sides regarding demands for increased local control of oil revenue.

A former executive in Nigeria with what is now Royal Dutch Shell PLC, she studied at Howard University in Washington and received a master’s degree in business administration from Cambridge University.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Baker Institute studies Bolivia's lithium potential

A couple years ago, Bolivia was described by some as “the Saudi Arabia of lithium” in reference to an evolving market for batteries for future electric vehicles. A recent study by Rice University’s Baker Institute on Public Policy notes questions linger about Bolivia’s possible role in the lithium industry.

“The supply picture is quite complex, not only globally, but specifically in Bolivia,” said David Mares, Baker Institute scholar for Latin American Energy Studies and a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego.

“There are multiple issues that have to be resolved before Bolivian production, still 10 to 15 years down the road by some estimates, could enter the market, particularly given the quality of Bolivian lithium, the country’s lack of infrastructure, and an unstable political environment,” he said.

Unlike oil and gas markets, lithium is not consumed as it works in batteries. The battery industry likely will be able to recycle the lithium once a battery dies, although Mares estimates the lithium recycling infrastructure is 5-10 years away from being commercially available.

Bolivia has no lithium extraction and processing industry so it would have to partner with others or develop indigenous technology, the Baker Institute researcher noted. Potential international investors might include oil and gas companies.

“The government has invited Japan Oil, Gas & Metals Corp., Mitsubishi, and Sumitomo from Japan; LG Chem Ltd. and Korea Resources Corp. from Korea; Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology; and France’s Eramet SA and Bollore” to advise Bolivia about lithium projects, Mares said.

Bolivia’s participation as a lithium supplier will be interesting to watch unfold. As Mares notes, “The government is already committed to a $1 billion investment plan in hydrocarbons to pick up the slack caused by natural gas policies that are seen as unfriendly to private investment.”

Labels: , , , , , , ,