Quiz: What You Don’t Know About How Energy Gets to You

Question:

Trans-Alaska pipeline (Credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

You know that storms spell trouble for your power connection at home. But how much do you really know about how energy travels?

Quiz by Joe Eaton and Christina Nunez

Which country is home to the longest natural gas pipeline?

  • Brazil
  • China
  • Russia
  • Canada

China’s Second West-East Pipeline is the longest in the world, spanning more than 5,300 miles (8,600 kilometers) from Xinjiang to 15 Chinese provinces and regions.

Which two countries plan to build the world’s longest undersea power cable, set to be operational by 2020?

  • Iceland and the United Kingdom
  • Norway and the United Kingdom
  • Denmark and Norway
  • Finland and Sweden

The planned NSN Link will run more than 435 miles (700 kilometers) to connect the Norwegian and British electric grids.

The U.S. loses 6 percent, on average, of its electricity as it travels from the point of generation to end users. Which country has the highest loss percentage?

  • Cambodia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Nigeria
  • Haiti

Haiti suffers the highest power losses. According to World Bank figures 55 percent of its electricity is lost in transmission and distribution. (See related: “Smart Meters Take a Bite out of Electricity Theft.”)

True or False? The International Energy Agency, which has predicted demand for natural gas in China will nearly double by 2019, expects that demand will be met almost exclusively by pipelines.

  • True
  • False

False. The IEA predicts that much of the increased demand will be met with imported liquefied natural gas delivered on tankers, although new pipelines will also play a role.

Which of the following is correct?

  • The outlet in your wall transmits power via AC (alternating current) while batteries do so via DC (direct current).
  • The outlet uses DC, batteries use AC.
  • Both of them use AC.
  • Both of them use DC.

Alternating current has been the standard for electricity transmission on the grid, while batteries provide direct current. However, high-voltage DC lines are increasingly being considered for long-distance power transmission.

What percent did the volume of oil transported by rail in the U.S. grow between 2008 and 2013?

  • 200 percent
  • 700 percent
  • 4,500 percent
  • 7,000 percent

The volume of crude oil transported by rail grew almost 4,500 percent, from 9,500 carloads to 435,560 carloads (roughly 300 million barrels) from 2008 to 2013.

Which section of the U.S. imports the most crude oil from other countries?

  • East Coast
  • Midwest
  • Gulf Coast
  • Rocky Mountains
  • West Coast

The Gulf Coast region imported the most crude, at about 3.3 million barrels per day in 2014, followed by the Midwest, West Coast, East Coast, and Rocky Mountains.

Shipping crude oil from Texas to Canada is actually cheaper than shipping it to the U.S. East Coast. Why?

  • Canada will pay more for U.S. crude, offsetting the cost.
  • The Jones Act requires that domestic shippers use U.S.-built vessels, boosting costs.
  • Shipping traffic is more congested at U.S. ports, creating delays.
  • The Jones Act requires shippers to pay a tax on goods transported domestically.

The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, requires that cargo moved between U.S. ports travel on ships built, owned, and staffed domestically. The tight supply of U.S.-built ships, along with higher labor costs, make it cheaper to send oil on foreign-flag ships to Canada.

About how much of North Dakota’s oil was transported by rail each month in 2014?

  • 20 to 30 percent
  • 40 to 50 percent
  • 60 to 70 percent
  • 80 to 90 percent

Between 60 and 70 percent of Bakken crude moved by tank car each month, according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. Most of the rest went by pipeline, with a small amount going by truck to Canadian pipelines.

What’s causing major operational challenges for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which runs from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields in northern Alaska to the Valdez Marine Terminal?

  • Age of the pipeline
  • A recent trend of colder than average winter temperatures
  • Poor maintenance
  • Decreased North Slope oil production

Oil production on Alaska's North Slope has steadily declined since its 1988 peak of two million barrels per day. As production declines, oil flow through the pipeline has fallen, leading to potential water separation from the crude oil, which could cause pipeline corrosion and other problems. (See related story: “To Stem Fall in Oil Output, Alaska Seeks to Slash Industry Taxes.”)

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