Title page for ETD etd-01112012-130920

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Moerschbaecher, Matthew Korbel
Author's Email Address mmoers1@lsu.edu
URN etd-01112012-130920
Title Energy, Environment, and Sustainability: A Hierarchical Analysis of South Louisiana
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Renewable Natural Resources
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Day, John W. Committee Chair
Keim, Richard Committee Chair
Austin, Chris Committee Member
D'Elia, Chris Committee Member
Nyman, Andy Committee Member
Wascom, Mike Committee Member
  • sustainability
  • carbon footprint
  • EROI
  • oil and gas
  • bottomland hardwoods
Date of Defense 2011-12-12
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation details research into the sustainability of industrial, human, and natural systems in south Louisiana. Chapter 1 is a general introduction. Chapter 2 calculates the energy return on financial investment (EROFI) of oil and gas production in the ultra-deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GoM) in 2009 and the Macondo Prospect (Mississippi Canyon Block 252). I calculated a preliminary Energy Return on Investment (EROI) using a range of energy intensity ratios. The EROFI for ultra-deepwater oil and gas at the wellhead was roughly 0.85 gallons, per dollar. These estimates of EROI for 2009 ultra-deepwater oil and natural gas at the wellhead ranged from 722:1. The EROFI of the Macondo Prospect oil reserves ranged from $84 to $140 to produce a barrel, and EROI ranged from 416:1. The lower end of these EROI ranges (i.e., 4 to 7:1) is more accurate because these values were derived using energy intensities averaged across the domestic oil and gas industry. Extraction costs of ultra-deepwater energy reserves in the GoM come at increasing energetic and economic cost to society.

In Chapter 3, I estimated the annual greenhouse gas emissions primarily from energy usage at Louisiana State University (LSU). Total energy use is 2.43 million MMBtu resulting in per capita GHG emissions of 6.1 Metric Tons CO2e, which is low compared to many other universities. Chapter 4 estimates the carbon storage of two bottomland hardwood forests located in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Carbon storage varied with microtopography. Carbon storage was greatest on drier ridge sites compared to swale sites. The forested area required to mitigate the 162,742 MT CO2e emitted by the LSU campus community in fiscal year 2007-2008 is estimated to be 12,937 to 23,150 hectares. The low end of this range is based on storage rates at the Ben Hur ridge study site and the high end of this range is based on storage rates measured at the St. Gabriel swale study site. Management for maximum carbon sequestration could lower the amount of land necessary to offset carbon emissions by the university. Chapter 5 contains the summary and conclusions.

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