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Oil refineries

Global Warming Could Severely Disrupt U.S. Oil Refineries, Warns Government Report

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: oil refineries, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Weather changes caused by global warming could seriously disrupt the United States' ability to extract, refine and transport oil, according to a new government report. The study, conducted by climate change researchers at seven different Department of Energy labs, was the first to examine global warming's anticipated effects on the U.S. energy supply.

According to the report, global-warming-driven storms are likely to severely damage oil extracting, refining and producing infrastructure. This occurred in 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed more than 100 offshore oil drilling platforms and damaged nearly 600 oil and natural gas pipelines. The resulting drop in production led to record high fuel prices throughout the United States. Such damage will become more common as the planet warms further, the report warned.

"Increases in storm intensity could threaten further (energy supply) disruptions of the sorts experienced in 2005," it said.

Adding to the impact, rising sea levels due to melting polar ice are expected to destroy coastal energy infrastructure, everything from oil refineries and liquid natural gas terminals to the ports where coal is imported and exported.

"Rising sea levels could [also] lead to direct losses such as equipment damage from flooding or erosion or indirect effects such as the costs of raising vulnerable assets to higher levels or building future energy projects further inland, thus increasing transportation costs," the report said.

Hydroelectricity production could be threatened in the West, the report said, because rivers there are fed by seasonal snowmelt that will cease once the snow stops returning every winter. But in regions where rivers are fed by rainwater, the report speculated, hydropower capacity might increase.

The report also noted that rising temperatures will lead to increased electricity demand, because electricity is nearly always used for cooling -- as opposed to gas, which is used only for heat.

Finally, the report noted that oil extracting capacity in Alaska might increase as polar ice melts and northern oceans become more navigable.

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