Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Great Idea From a Reader

Dear Mr. Kashi and Dr. Watts --

I became aware of your work from Mr. Kashi's recent interview on
Public Radio International, and subsequently spent some time on your
web site. Thank you for a revealing, and moving, look at a part of
the world that I've heard much about but had always seemed very

I know that this must be a busy time, but I've had a question on my
mind for over a year now, without knowing where to turn for an
answer. If either of you have a moment -

After reading an article on the unrest in the Niger delta, some
friends and I were discussing the problems associated with the
enormous gas flares. Given that there are generators on the market
right now that can operate directly on wellhead gas (just attach
them to the flare pipe) and that they are relatively affordable, and
would pay for themselves in electricity, I wonder that there has not
been incentive for the oil companies to install them.

Failing that, I wonder that there has not been outside pressure, or
that NGOs working in the area have not raised money to purchase
them. It seems a clear win from any angle - reducing flares, and
providing power to the local region (or reducing demand from oil
producers on the local grid).

A word about myself: I am not associated with any generator company
or NGO. I've worked as an IT consultant in the San Francisco Bay
Area for many years, punctuated by long stretches of travelling
abroad. This inquiry stems from sheer curiosity (though I will admit
that I am looking for a life transition and would love to find, or
create, a beneficial project, especially one that would generate
power from wasted resources while improving people's lives).

FYI, here are the generators which I mentioned: Capstone Turbines
Just connect them to the pipe providing the flare gas, and turn
them on. Other companies provide similar products. True, there is an
initial investment ranging anywhere from several hundred thousand to
much more, depending on shipping and install costs, but with a
guaranteed return, that should not be difficult to raise. In this
case, the old adage is true: the more you spend, the more you
(eventually) save.

I'd been wondering where I might find someone who could provide an
off-the-cuff assessment of whether this idea is at all viable, or
whether there is some obvious, insurmountable obstacle. Besides
money, difficult political situation, and (presumably) difficult
relations with the oil companies, that is...

Any response, or guidance you that could offer, would be very much

Again, congratulations on the book (I've just ordered a copy and
look forward to reading it) and for raising awareness on this vital
part of the world.


Jeff Herzbach


imnakoya said...

I doubt if the policy makers haven't thought of doing this. What I'll question is their reason for not. Great idea and excellent blog!

PS: I have the pleasure listening to you on NPR several weeks ago. Thanks for showcasing the ugly plight of the Niger Delta.

Ed Kashi said...

Dear Inmakoya, thanks for writing and I want more people to read about this issue and help to figure out ways to move things forward. We cannot rely on the policymakers anymore and must bring pressure from the ground up to see positive change.

Don Thieme said...

I followed Imnakoya's post here. I will also be posting about this on my own blog, Life Cycle Analysis.