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Electric cars pose questions – Odessa American

With 44 percent of the oil pumped in West Texas and the nation being used to make gasoline and ethanol, will the advent of electrically powered vehicles put a crimp in the energy industry?

It’s a complex scenario that’ll play out on the world stage in coming decades, but Waco economist Ray Perryman and Odessa oilman Kirk Edwards say, “No.”

“Electric cars are obviously going to grow in importance in the future, but for a variety of reasons including charging infrastructure and time, range and battery disposal issues, they will not replace conventional vehicles at the pace that many analysts anticipate,” said Perryman, who lives in Odessa. “Obviously, greater penetration of electric cars will diminish the demand for gasoline. On the other hand, the primary incremental fuel for reliable electric power generation in the future is likely to be natural gas.

“Thus the demand for the resources of the oil and gas industry will remain significant,” Perryman said. “In fact, the conversion of natural gas into electricity results in an energy loss of 55 percent. The increase in electric vehicles will thereby substantially increase the demand for natural gas.

“There are other technologies being developed such as that used by Nacero that will refine gasoline from natural gas and substantially reduce emissions in conventional vehicles.”

Perryman said electric cars can benefit the climate because the carbon emissions will occur at a single point, the power plant, rather than on the road, making capture more efficient. “All that is to say that the petroleum sector will ultimately be a partner, not a problem, in dealing with climate issues and it will be a vital part of the global energy complex for decades to come,” he said.

Edwards said electric cars like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Models 3, S, Y and X, Mercedes Benz EQS, Nissan LEAF, Volkswagen ID.4 and Chevrolet Bolt won’t make much difference to the global oil and gas industry “because the electric infrastructure is just not there in the undeveloped countries that are using a tremendous amount of oil.”

Referring to the need for the rare earth element neodymium to make the cars’ permanent magnets, Edwards said, “Here in the U.S. it will be interesting to see if electric cars can keep up their growth pace in light of the materials needed to make them.”

The People’s Republic of China controls 90 percent of the world’s supply of neodymium, which has increased in cost from $40.80 to $69.90 per kilogram this year, according to Lynas Rare Earths Ltd. of Mount Weld, Western Australia.

“Lastly, everyone needs to realize that even though it says ‘electric car,’ those cars run on 30 percent natural gas, 30 percent coal and-or 30 percent nuclear power as that is the breakdown of the generation sources in the United States,” Edwards said. “That percentage will not move very much in the next decade.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says that of the 6.6 billion barrels of oil consumed in the U.S. last year, 21 percent was used to make distillate fuels like heating oil, diesel fuel and biomass-based diesel fuel, six percent for jet fuel and 29 percent for 6,000 products such as waxes, lubricating oils, asphalt, liquefied natural gas, kerosene and all plastics.

According to the Ranken Energy Corp. of Edmond, Okla., other products made from petroleum include antiseptics, anesthetics, antihistamines, artificial limbs, soft contact lenses, heart valves, dentures, solvents, motor oil, bearing grease, ink, floor wax, linoleum, fertilizers, oil filters, ammonia, ballpoint pens, upholstery, sweaters, boats, insecticides, bicycle and motor vehicle tires, nail polish, fishing lures, perfumes, shoe polish, caulking and petroleum jelly.

Also, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, CD and DVD players, transparent tape, food preservatives, curtains, golf balls, basketballs, football cleats, golf bags, soap, vitamin capsules, purses, shoes, cortisone, deodorant, putty, dyes, panty hose, sun glasses, parachutes, dishes, shaving cream, cold cream, toothpaste, detergents, tents, telephones, cameras, bandages, hair curlers, drinking cups, paint brushes, crayons, movie film, combs, rubbing alcohol, vaporizers, fan belts and refrigerators.

Electric cars pose questions