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back to article Brit hover barges, airships offered to Canadian oilfields

British firms are pitching retro-futuristic transport ideas for future energy projects intended to exploit the "oil sands" of Canada's Alberta province. Two ideas being touted are riverine "hover barges" and monster heavy-lift "hybrid" airships. Hovertrans hoverbarge in action on the Yukon river in the 1970s Tomorrow's …

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Joke

Confused

"jubtabulous gold-digger giantess Anna Nicole Smith in length and dimensions through the body (in some directions at least). The gigantic gasbag features a massive cargo bay, and could dispense even with rivers while hauling in Alberta's new generation of oil plants."

You talking about Anna Nicole-Smith or the Dirigible now?

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Flame

Re-quote

"Fort McMurray Today reports from a transportation planning meeting hosted in Alberta by energy companies and their pocket whores, seeking to find ways to get access for oil exploitation to remote areas."

When Alberta ended up using shots of Northumberland to promote tourism, brushing aside issues like rampant pollution in their ongoing oil and diamonds orgy, the name "Dirty Alberta" probably became the most accurate label for the province. Of course, the "dirty" part is multifaceted: who knows what kind of under-the-table envelope-passing is going on?

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Bronze badge

My bet is on Mother Nature

Having been on the rivers in the far north of Alberta -- and it is bloody far north -- I assume the hoverbarges have considered how to deal with snags and other semi-submerged badnesses. Will they only work in the short summer, or will they sail up the rivers of ice throughout the winter -- and, in Spring Breakup, can they ride over the huge shifting slabs of river ice?

I've flown into Ft Chipewyan (there was no road into it then, and maybe only a snowmobile track to it now, in winter) and the wind was rough. I mean rough. We kind of skidding into the gravel-bed airport, the seams of the plane popping. I have to say I wouldn't want to be in a big inflated bladder held place by rotors with a blizzard of minus 70F slamming me in the side.

On the other hand, both blimp and hoverbarge are less damaging to the environment than the monster trucks that endlessly travel up to Ft McMurray and back.

A fond memory of the place in 1973: the local burger joint had a 'papa burger' of three patties, a 'mama burger' of two patties, and an 'animal burger' of five patties. A big seller to the guys who drove those monster trucks and handled that monster equipment. I was r-e-a-l-l-y respectful.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Confused

Sigh.

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Joke

Why isn't this under "Rise of the Machines"?

Mine's the fire-retardant one.

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Anonymous Coward

@Hollerith

Semi-submerged obstacles, so long as they are not overly high, don't pose a major obstacle to most types of hovercraft. They will simply go right over them and not even notice. Same thing with ice, especially since ice would tend to be rather smooth in comparison.

Shifting slabs of loose ice, that might be a problem depending on how big they are and how fast they are moving.

Don't know how well the airships handle under high winds, they do have an awfully large surface area to get caught on.

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Doubt it will happen soon...

I'm from Alberta and used to work in the the Industry. I would expect that there will be some experiments done and most of this tech will be largely ignored for the next decade or so. After the Oil prices started dropping like a rock companies up north have been canceling plans, laying off oilfield workers and starting the dance that is the "Bust" part of the Boom-Bust Oil and Gas cycle.

Which really kind of sucks, the airships and retro barges just need someone with a lot of money to throw at them to work out the kinks and make them more common.

Aside to Hollerith: A&W (The burger joint) started selling that whole line of burgers again a few years ago. The monster equipment is even bigger now. Some things never change for long. ;) To the USA-ians, yes it's the same chain as in the US and no the menu/food in Canada is nothing like in the US... it's actually good.

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Silver badge

Bah!

I've been to northern Alberta and it's riverbanks and rural roads tend to be composed of fist-sized water-worn spud-shaped stones. Pushing a hoverbarge over these would bring new meaning to the phrase gattling-catapult-of-360-degree-indiscriminate-death-by-subsonic-but-still-hoofing-it-a-bit-rocks.

Why not just load the bits of oil rigs, prefab canteens, bags of pron and other comforts of home required by teams of burly men in the middle of nowhere into cylindrical cases and use a variation of Saddam Hussein's supergun to lob the stuff to the site?

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Silver badge

assume they get the oil out efficiently

which they won't (tar sands oil take a lot of energy to extract & clean up), that there really are 173 billion barrels (hmm, right), that would represent about 5.5 years of world consumption at 85 million barrels a day, current consumption.

IIRC current increase of CO2 is about 2.5 parts per million per year due to current fossil fuel consumption. So that would represent about 13.75 ppm additional CO2. Taking us from about 380ppm of CO2 currently to about 394ppm CO2 (perhaps less as not all fossil use is oil)

Assuming we haven't got a runaway breakdown of natural CO2 deposits going by then, taking us much higher.

I remember seeing photos on the news of the tsunami a few years ago. I seem to remember in the pictures people standing on the beach apparently discussing the strange wall of water in the distance.

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Silver badge

Oilsands? I say, ditch the ornis

Sandworms* are much more practical.

* Any analogy with existing Anna Nicole Smiths purely coincidental.

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Dead Vulture

Really?

So now we are digging huge chunks out of the Canadian wilderness up to get at deposits of Oil/Sand mix that is difficult to refine and a nightmare to haul back to civilization? This is the best means we can find to supply energy? pffff

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Flame

Any British Companies

Up for saving the people in Fort Chipewyan, etc. from dropping dead due to bizarrely-elevated rates of rare bile-duct cancers and the like caused by effluent from the tailings ponds of these abominations being dumped in their water? Or should they just be glad we "gave them the railways"?

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new cargo

At least they'll be able to use these new transports to carry off the bodies of the dead First Nations they'll have poisoned by then. You know, those living downstream of the worlds dirtiest mining project. In many senses of that word.

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Gold badge
Thumb Up

200 tonnes = 3 HGV trips?

Just looked up the Hovertrans site and they have this for sale.

http://www.hovertrans.com/The_Siberian.htm

From the notes it appears to have been built for a customer in Siberia. Note the "Hover height" is 1.8m (6'). Note that it should be able to run in both frozen and thawed rivers.

I had not realised how long or developed this technology was. It's a long way past the experimental stage.

Thumbs up for raising the profile of this tech. But the pollution o f this area is a question.

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Flame

Re: Any British Companies

"Up for saving the people in Fort Chipewyan, etc."

Of course not! Lord Sir Poncenby Polluter-Smythe and the captains of British Industry® probably see widespread environmental destruction and contempt for human rights as essential parts of doing business, for which their chums in "The City" (cue stroking motions from financial journalists, Tories, closet Tories (New Labour), overenthusiastic MBA students) reward them generously.

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@Ms Bee (Confused)

That's a bit harsh - in my first read through I saw the word "cashbag" and my third-eye visualised an image of a high heeled, overly manicured, gold legging'd Anna Nicole Smith hauling an oil derrick platform up a river.

Must stay off the little red pills.

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