…North Korean Oil From F-T…
A UN oil embargo on North Korea may have very little effect on its development of ICBMs and nuclear warheads.
North Korea can avoid the effects of any oil embargo by producing diesel oil from coal, using the Fischer-Tropsch process.
The Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) process was developed by Germany during the 1920s.
It produces diesel fuel (oil) from coal.
Nazi Germany ran its tanks on the diesel fuel it produced from coal by using the Fischer-Tropsch process during WWII.
While the 1943 raid on the Ploiesti oil fields during WWII hurt Germany’s war effort, it didn’t stop its panzers because they could run on diesel fuel produced from coal.
South Africa used the F-T process to produce diesel fuel from coal when it was cut off from oil by UN sanctions. In 1950, SASOL (South African Coal and Oil) was formed to commercialize the coal-to-liquids technology for South Africa.
After the sanctions were lifted, SASOL developed additional installations, such as in Qatar, to produce liquids from natural gas. Shell also developed Gas-To-Liquid (GTL) plants, in Borneo.
The F-T process is widely understood but is expensive. If North Korea can spend billions to produce ICBMs and nuclear bombs, it can, no doubt, find the money to produce oil from coal.
North Korea has ample supplies of coal.
Bloomberg, Hong Kong, reported, “In 2015, North Korea shipped 25 million tons of coal to China, and is restricted to exporting 7.5 million tons a year under UN sanctions in 2016 — leaving plenty left for fuel conversion.”
Quoting Bloomberg, “According to Pierre Noel, a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, North Korea had reserves of about 600 million metric tons of coal in 2014.”
U.S.reserves of 251 billion tons were 400 times larger than North Korea’s, but North Korea still has ample supplies of coal to develop diesel fuel from the F-T process.
And, according to Noel, “In 2006, North Korea built a coal gasification plant as part of an upgrade of the Namhung Youth Chemical Complex.” This indicates that North Korea understands the technology.
It would be very pleasant to believe that sanctions will forestall future missile and nuclear development by North Korea, but it’s doubtful that oil sanctions will get the desired results.
Perhaps the recent sanctions on banks can help cut off North Korea’s supply of the funds needed to build an F-T facility.
More will need to be done if we are to prevent a nuclear attack, including a possible EMF attack on the United States.
I’d argue that North Korea could also use its coal, and Chinas’ methanol technology to turn coal into methanol and DME, as occurs in some Chinese provinces. Most modern cars have the ability to burn various combinations of alcohol and gasoline. I understand US regs have some restrictions against methanol rather than ethanol use, but I doubt if Kim Jong Un cares. The Chinese tech seems to be more adaptable to small scale use than Fischer Tropsch, so North Korea may adopt it for their civilian transport fleet. Since gasoline has a higher energy density than methanol, I suspect their military would prefer gas.