Why is refined fuel so expensive?

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AndrewW
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby AndrewW » Tue May 08, 2012 3:40 pm

BFalcon wrote:How many people do you see buying crude oil and then refining it? Refining oil isn't that hard, it's mainly a case of evaporating and then condensing the products at various (precise) temperatures - well within the capabilities of most people... but they prefer to pay a lot more for petrol at the pumps. This is because of convenience too - people don't like wasting time (quite aside from all the waste products that would need to be got rid of, which might be useable by other people in a proper system, eg water would provide oxygen, used then to recharge ship life support systems - in a ship, it would likely need to be dumped rather than purify the volatile oxygen too).
Well, Delta Airlines did recently purchase a refinery... Not an individual certainly but indicates some of the corporations may get into their own business doing this.
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby Egil Skallagrimsson » Tue May 08, 2012 6:13 pm

phavoc wrote:
Refined fuel might be better priced at like Cr250/ton instead of Cr500. Even that cost multiplier might be too high.
The first post in this thread suggests that 110CR/ton, using the RAW, would be about right... :lol:

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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby phavoc » Tue May 08, 2012 6:15 pm

AndrewW wrote:
Well, Delta Airlines did recently purchase a refinery... Not an individual certainly but indicates some of the corporations may get into their own business doing this.
Yeah, that's true. But the odd thing there is that there is not much margin in refining - unless you also own your own source of production. So Delta MAY be able to leverage long-term sourcing contracts into stable prices, but they certainly won't be able to reap a large cost savings.

Though being able to predict your fuel costs can mean a lot to a fuel-intensive industry like Delta. I think its much harder for airlines to buy hedges these days for fuel. Though Southwest did and for a while at least made a killing.
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby Captain Jonah » Wed May 09, 2012 8:34 am

Ah I was going the wrong way with the 100D limits, apologies.

BUT. To maintain an absolute fixed price requires vastly more resources than I think would be available. The Imperium may mandate that fuel costs Cr500 per Dton but what happens inside those areas where local laws apply. Are the Imperial Marines going to launch an orbital drop to take out the government because they are undercutting the official price. Who is going to blockade the gas giants and every ice ball in a system, let’s face it if piracy exists then fuel runners are going to exist.

Rent some space on an existing platform, set up a mobile tanker using a tug and fuel tanks, go into partnership with existing

What happens if you wilderness refuel and jump back into Imperial jurisdiction. Does the customs inspector check your fuel of molecular tags that all “Official” fuel has and then taxes you Cr400 per Dton as a fine for using Illegal fuel.

Yes fuel is hard to come by at rift points and systems without water or GGs. So it should be more expensive. But making ALL fuel more expensive everywhere to cover for it makes no sense from a Trade point of view. Where does the extra money go, for companies who do not run the rift refuelling points is it a massive Imperial Tax.

Trying to clamp down on unrefined fuel is going to create something like Prohibition. Psst, want to buy some unrefined fuel, Cr150 a Dton.

The analogy with oil and refineries is not accurate.

Yes you can set up a still in your back garden, buy in a few barrels of crude and go to work but you end up with an awful lot of other things as well and yes you can get cheap petrol and diesel and lubricants etc if you are set up to deal with them. A H processor filters and processes water or ammonia or the gas from a gas giant, removes the rubbish and leaves you with a tank of H. With methods of storage that allow for room temperature containment or just keep it as a gas you can then pump it straight into the blocks power plant.

Fuel processors are small and cheap, taking any source of H and producing fuel from it is easy. A ship can recoup the cost of a few fuel processors very quickly. Unless the jackboots of the Imperial Fuel Regulatory Department are on everyone’s necks fuel simply isn’t going to be that expensive, market forces will push the price down and down.
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby BFalcon » Wed May 09, 2012 9:27 am

Captain Jonah wrote:Ah I was going the wrong way with the 100D limits, apologies.

BUT. To maintain an absolute fixed price requires vastly more resources than I think would be available. The Imperium may mandate that fuel costs Cr500 per Dton but what happens inside those areas where local laws apply. Are the Imperial Marines going to launch an orbital drop to take out the government because they are undercutting the official price. Who is going to blockade the gas giants and every ice ball in a system, let’s face it if piracy exists then fuel runners are going to exist.

Rent some space on an existing platform, set up a mobile tanker using a tug and fuel tanks, go into partnership with existing

What happens if you wilderness refuel and jump back into Imperial jurisdiction. Does the customs inspector check your fuel of molecular tags that all “Official” fuel has and then taxes you Cr400 per Dton as a fine for using Illegal fuel.
100D - no worries... it happens.

I don't think the Imperials would care overmuch - the locals might though... and they have their own navies (100D and under)... if they don't care, why should the imperials?

As for undercutting, it says that the processed fuel is actually subsidised at 500 per unit... that does make me wonder just how much you could process (in a facility or in a tanker) after paying the costs involved (we all know how much a ship costs to run - a tanker which processes fuel on the way back from a gas giant to the main ports to sell is going to have running costs of its own, as well as wages for the crews and sales/admin staff).

Customs, in systems where wilderness refuelling IS banned, may well notice that this ship or group of ships always mysteriously appear refuelled without having docked, so might be subject to an investigation, I guess, but I suspect it would be more suspicion of piracy or links to a hidden base in the system than any real worry about being undercut. Of course, tax evasion would be another matter... :)

As for the processors, I always understood them to process fuel that had already been scooped, so would have to dump the waste as it processes it - allowing the ship to leave the area and not have to loiter for days (highly dangerous, since pirates might enjoy a free lunch at gas giants otherwise...).

Edit: The analogy to the prohibition is actually a good idea... black market fuel would make for an interesting scenario... staying one step ahead of the Imperial Revenue...
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby hdan » Wed May 09, 2012 4:12 pm

I can't imagine that the Imperials would care if you used Official Hydrogen(tm) or not, but a single world might care very much if you try to refuel without their permission (that is, without paying them their tax). But unless you're in a pocket empire or something, that world's not going to care what you did before coming. That's why I think fuel prices and skimming legality should depend on the local system's interest in controlling fuel and ability/willingness to enforce their "mineral rights".

Though to be perfectly honest, what happens IMTU is that players simply pay 100Cr/dTon for unrefined at the starport if its available or skim it otherwise. In either case, they let their onboard refineries handle purification for jump drive usage.

Maybe pre-refined fuel is for large jump-capable warships and far jumping cargo liners who don't want to or can't afford to spend the time to convert their massive fuel needs themselves?
/hdan
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby AndrewW » Wed May 09, 2012 4:29 pm

hdan wrote:Maybe pre-refined fuel is for large jump-capable warships and far jumping cargo liners who don't want to or can't afford to spend the time to convert their massive fuel needs themselves?
Just need enough refining capacity to convert it while moving to the 100d limit.
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby Pyromancer » Tue May 15, 2012 11:59 am

Here in Germany, heating oil costs ~80 cents/liter and diesel fuel costs ~140 cents/liter, and they are chemically exactly the same substance. There is no technical reason not to run your car on heating oil (if it has a diesel engine, of course), but it is forbidden, because the 60 cents/liter difference are taxes, and the government wants those.
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby Jame Rowe » Tue May 15, 2012 12:54 pm

I would expect that most C-class ports would have some sort of refinery that allows them to crack their stored unrefined fuel. For me, that'd be where the cost comes in.
Pyromancer wrote:Here in Germany, heating oil costs ~80 cents/liter and diesel fuel costs ~140 cents/liter, and they are chemically exactly the same substance. There is no technical reason not to run your car on heating oil (if it has a diesel engine, of course), but it is forbidden, because the 60 cents/liter difference are taxes, and the government wants those.
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby Hans Rancke » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:01 am

Class C starports lack one or more of the features a starport needs to qualify for a Class B rating. A starport can have refined fuel available, offer annual maintenances, and have a TAS facility, but if it doesn't have a ship- or boat-yard, it can't get a rating higher than C.

The only reason I can imagine why a starport wouldn't offer refined fuel (at a competetive price, of course) is if the traffic is too low to make it profitable. And the traffic would have to be quite low to make a small fuel processor unprofitable.

I once calculated that the breakpoint for refined fuel was Cr350/ton. That's where it become unprofitable for a starship to carry its own processor and buy unrefined fuel for Cr100/T. Assuming the ship is able to fill the cargo space that omitting a processor would open up, of course. It also assumes that ocean refuelling is prohibited. Gas giant refuelling is almost always a false economy, a ship losing more in lost revenues than it saves on the fuel bill unless it never planned to visit the mainworld at all.


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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby F33D » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:49 pm

Yes agreed. If there is enough traffic (and available unrefined material) any given starport would offer refined fuel.

IF there existed a SGG as close as Mars is to Earth AND it was in favourable orbital position it might be economically viable to skim. (at their closest, it's a 1G trip of ~1 day, 18 hours from Earth to Mars.)
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby Hopeless » Sun Jul 29, 2012 7:24 pm

I was thinking that those with fuel processors could process from gas giants whilst the core world of that system had a much larger and ready access to supplies thereby reducing time and money spent on maintaining such systems in return for that base price.

Yes the ship could refuel itself and refine the fuel as well but most ships will either lack the time necessary to refine the fuel so they can make a hasty departure and keep to their trading run quota's or have to more frequently maintain their ship as their processors cannot be of the same standard as those based in the system who have a darn good reason to keep them up to date because that means ships will stop there to trade and bring passengers/colonists, etc and in return those ships know there will be amenities to repair their ship, refuel and even provide a safe port since its to that system's own benefit to keep it that way.

As for the cost, I suspect it would be passed on to whoever is paying them to make the deliveries since the only ones badly hit would be the freelancers or smaller trading concerns who have their own ways of keeping solvent.

In my campaign i see water as the main source of fuel with the processing releasing the hyrdogen allowing the oxygen to restore the life support in addition to refueling the ship, gas giants can supply an alternative fuel but are far more work intensive as they degrade the ship faster than going to the source so to speak.

Will have to read the rest of this thread when I get a chance but I figured I open up with this so I can go back and reread and see how wrong I am or more importantly what new ideas you come up with!
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby IanW » Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:43 am

The basic reason is that Marc Miller is really bad at eceonomics - the same reason freight was 1000 credits a jump, regardless of length, until Gurps Traveller: Far Trade, and there were so many exploitable holes in the Spec Trade system (*).

Either (a) its a barely disguised tax thats evaded by ships bringing their own mini refinery (and the locals being willing - without a bribe - to wink at them and sell the unrefined fuel), or (b) errata it to 350 credits a dton, or (c) both.

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(*) As a side note, if you're running a merchant campaign, the cargo is the patron. Give it the same amount of detail. Its not 'Manufactured goods', its a steam-powered organ. Its not 'biologicals', its 28000 liters of raw whiskey. Its not 'Computer', its a third-hand ex-Subsector Navy active sensor being delivered to a new outsystem mining colony as the broadcasting heart of their anti-pirate defenses.
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby far-trader » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:37 am

IanW wrote:The basic reason is that Marc Miller is really bad at economics...
More like "The basic reason is that Marc Miller and the rest created a game rather than a business simulation because games are fun for gamers." Business simulations may be fun for a few but not for most gamers.
IanW wrote:Gurps Traveller: Far Trader...
Over-detailed simulationist boredom in my opinion... and I LIKE playing Merchants in Traveller. And I also loathe CT LBB7 Merchant Prince trade rules for the same reason.
IanW wrote:...and there were so many exploitable holes in the Spec Trade system.
One word solution... "Referee". OK, maybe two words... "Experienced Referee."
IanW wrote: As a side note, if you're running a merchant campaign, the cargo is the patron. Give it the same amount of detail. Its not 'Manufactured goods', its a steam-powered organ. Its not 'biologicals', its 28000 liters of raw whiskey. Its not 'Computer', its a third-hand ex-Subsector Navy active sensor being delivered to a new outsystem mining colony as the broadcasting heart of their anti-pirate defenses.
That's one take, sure. It's not for me though. The cargo is the simply the bait for the adventure. Either for where it takes you, who takes it from you, or because you didn't get enough and have to scramble for the creds for the next payment on the ship. It really doesn't matter (usually) what is in the big box. It's freight. It goes A to B and you hope there's no detour to C and enough of it to pay the bills (which of course there never is, being the whole point of the game, and forcing one to take... less ethically pure employment. AKA an Adventure.
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby Hans Rancke » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:23 am

far-trader wrote:
IanW wrote:The basic reason is that Marc Miller is really bad at economics...
More like "The basic reason is that Marc Miller and the rest created a game rather than a business simulation because games are fun for gamers." Business simulations may be fun for a few but not for most gamers.
That's true. The problem I have with this is that far too many people get the two confused and insist that world-building must be based on the game rules instead of some sort of crude business simulation.
IanW wrote:Gurps Traveller: Far Trader...
Over-detailed simulationist boredom in my opinion... and I LIKE playing Merchants in Traveller. And I also loathe CT LBB7 Merchant Prince trade rules for the same reason.
But they're a big help when world-building. I like being able to estimate the amount of traffic a given starport has every day. Which you can't if all you have are the basic game rules (well, you can, but you get highly implausible results).
IanW wrote:...and there were so many exploitable holes in the Spec Trade system.
One word solution... "Referee". OK, maybe two words... "Experienced Referee."
Whenever I hear the excuse about referees being able to compensate for unfortunate rules ramifications, I know the rules are bad or at least inadequate. Rules should work without requiring special efforts by the referee. If they don't, they're not very good rules.
IanW wrote:As a side note, if you're running a merchant campaign, the cargo is the patron. Give it the same amount of detail. Its not 'Manufactured goods', its a steam-powered organ. Its not 'biologicals', its 28000 liters of raw whiskey. Its not 'Computer', its a third-hand ex-Subsector Navy active sensor being delivered to a new outsystem mining colony as the broadcasting heart of their anti-pirate defenses.
That's one take, sure. It's not for me though. The cargo is the simply the bait for the adventure. Either for where it takes you, who takes it from you, or because you didn't get enough and have to scramble for the creds for the next payment on the ship. It really doesn't matter (usually) what is in the big box. It's freight. It goes A to B and you hope there's no detour to C and enough of it to pay the bills (which of course there never is, being the whole point of the game, and forcing one to take... less ethically pure employment. AKA an Adventure.
I always make up the kind of freight being shipped for two very good reasons. One is for verisimilitude. Nothing kills the willing suspension of disbelief for a player than when he asks what's in the box and the referee can't answer. It's almost as bad as asking the bellhop what his name is and being told that it's Um... I dunno. And it's a splendid opportunity to expand the setting a bit, a window into the worlds the players pass in the night, as it were. It provides a bit of extra chrome for Regina to know that it exports porker hams, copperfish garum, and nutberry brandy.

The second reason is that when I introduce a cargo that is going to cause trouble, I don't ring alarm bells for the players by providing details for that particular cargo that I don't provide for every cargo. You really don't want that container of copperfish garum to leak!


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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby phavoc » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:38 pm

Hopeless wrote:I was thinking that those with fuel processors could process from gas giants whilst the core world of that system had a much larger and ready access to supplies thereby reducing time and money spent on maintaining such systems in return for that base price.
The only problem with that is if there isn't a gas giant located conveniently next door. So for Regina, which orbits a gas giant, it's not a problem. But if you were delivering your cargo to say Terra, then you'd have to fly out to Jupiter to pick up fuel. So you've got a few days transit time, then fueling, then move out to 100D before jump. Time is money for a merchanter.

I've been putting together an article for Signs and Portents that would fix that for most systems. It's basically a fuel harvesting station at the gas giant and it slings unmanned fuel pods to the planets and stations that need fuel. The fuel is removed and the pod is boosted back to the gas giant for refilling. The pods purify the fuel in transit (if desired) because they have nothing but time on their hands. It's like a pipeline, except there isn't any pipe.
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby IanW » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:08 am

Phavoc,

The economics get even better once you use contragrav vehicles to do the initial skimming, then transfer the unrefined fuel to the maneuver drive powered pods.

Build them so they need a Crew of two, as you want a crew of two in case someone dies.

I'd say any world on a Major trade route or better that lacks water on the Mainworld would probably do this.
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Re: Why is refined fuel so expensive?

Postby phavoc » Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:01 pm

IanW wrote:Phavoc,

The economics get even better once you use contragrav vehicles to do the initial skimming, then transfer the unrefined fuel to the maneuver drive powered pods.

Build them so they need a Crew of two, as you want a crew of two in case someone dies.

I'd say any world on a Major trade route or better that lacks water on the Mainworld would probably do this.
I'm "tweaking" things just a bit. The fuel collectors are highly automated with a crew of just four in a 50ton Modular cutter equipped with the necessary systems to fly the mated pair of ships. There's a pilot/co-pilot who do the flying, and a two-person crew who monitors the fuel collection process and makes any required adjustments or changes. The fuel collector ship itself is just engines, collection equipment and fuel tanks. So the 10,000ton collector has 9,500 tons of tankage and the remaining 500 tons is set aside for engines, gear, etc. Since its not meant to do much more than fly down to the gas giant and collect gas, I felt it was ok to design it this way. I tried to follow the design rules for everything but the crew aspect. Computers and automation at TL12 should be sufficient for something like this.

I have to complete a few other things before I can ship it off to signs & portents. I wish I could do illustrations, but anything beyond some simple sketching is above my paygrade!

I do understand where you are coming from with making it more of a vehicle instead of ship. There are some gaps in the design rules.

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