Sep 26, 2013 in Gas
On 12 November in Brussels, CommentVisions is hosting a Live Debate on "Shale gas: a game-changer for Europe's energy landscape?" The aim of the event will be to examine the potential for shale gas extraction in Europe to change the energy supply landscape. It will look at the prospects for finding, extracting and marketing shale gas as well as considering the environmental effects and the arguments of shale gas opponents. (Click here to read more about the event).
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Posted on: 26/09/2013
The sweet dream of sorting out energy security concerns in Europe seems to be coming true by the new revolution of shale gas. If this dream comes true, Europe will enjoy cheap energy for years to come. The US was a pioneer in its ‘Dash for Shale Gas’ and investments of billion US Dollars has been made to get the Genie out of its battle.
However, there could be some differences between the US experience and any other countries’. This is mainly because when the US started its ‘fracking’ as it has almost extracted every possible commercial oil and gas resources it had in place; and with renewable energy still premature and costly facking was a cost- effective investment to undertake.
In the case of Europe, shale gas while may not have sufficient chance to compete against oil and gas in some countries such as Norway, it will have a good chance to compete in other countries like the UK, due to the maturity of the UK North Sea oil and gas fields. Also, Europe will benefit from the experience and technology that have been used in the States in extracting shale gas.
Still a bit of problems to overcome in Europe to make a boom in shale gas extraction, these are connected to stability of fiscal regimes in a number of countries such as the UK, sources of finance to boost investments in shale gas and the issues of CO2 emission and emissions taxes that may in fact restrict some shale gas projects in a number European states.
It is worth mentioning here that while shale gas may be a solution for national and international energy security concerns, it would be a short-term solution as shale gas production will peak one day. Renewable energy is the long term answer to energy security and Europe must keep a balance between investments in shale gas and renewable energy.
For some more inputs on shale gas please see my contribution on: http://theconversation.com/osborne-shoots-for-energy-security-but-shale-gas-is-no-silver-bullet-16244
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There has been widespread public concern around hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, in the USA and allegations have been made about improper practice in the industry. Investigations are ongoing but so far no conclusive evidence has been found of any fracking chemicals in water supplies. However, I believe it is important that the UK, Europe and the world learn from the USA by ensuring that any fracking that takes place is managed and regulated effectively.
In June 2012, the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering published an independent review of the evidence to inform government policymaking about shale gas extraction in the UK.
The review concluded that the major environmental and health and safety risks associated with fracking could be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through strong regulation. Environmental Risk Assessments should be mandatory for all shale gas operations so that risks are assessed across the entire lifecycle of shale gas extraction, including seismic risks (earth tremors) as well as risks associated with the disposal of wastes and abandonment of wells.
Ensuring the integrity of every well must remain the highest priority to prevent environmental contamination. The probability of well failure is low for a single well if it is designed and constructed according to best practice. Studies in North America have used well data to identify key factors affecting leakage, especially the number of steel casings (that line the well to isolate it from the surrounding rock formations) and the extent to which these casings are cemented. It is important to make sure that there are enough cemented steel casings in place to prevent leakage, especially where the well passes through freshwater zones. In the UK, a greater number of casings tends to be used than is common in the USA. It is also best practice to cement casings all the way back to the surface, something which is not always done in the USA.
Monitoring of groundwater and air, as well as seismic monitoring, should also be conducted across the entire shale gas lifecycle: before, during and after operations. This is an important lesson to learn from the USA, since it has proved difficult to verify allegations of water contamination caused by fracking in the USA due to a lack of baseline monitoring.
The UK has a strong history of regulating the oil and gas industry, which it is already drawing on for its existing and well established onshore industry. The regulatory system is therefore already well equipped for the development of small scale exploratory shale gas activities. However, attention must be paid to the way in which risks could scale up if a future shale gas industry were to develop nationwide.
Posted on: 27/09/2013
In this article we critically examine the overall impact of harvesting shale gas located in the Marcellus Shale Basin as the principal means of reducing US greenhouse gas (GHG) emission that is associated with the generation of electricity. We perform this examination from both a physical and legal/regulatory point of view. From the physical....
Posted on: 28/09/2013
This piece provides a basic insight into the way climate change in conjunction with environmental and public health concerns have triggered a regulatory response by National, State and Local Governments. It will focus on shale gas regulations and not those pertaining to tight sandstones or coal bed methane.
A key element in the emergence of unconventional....
Basically I’m a believer in making sure energy development can be done responsibly and that all parties involved are ‘honest brokers’ about the opportunities and challenges, and addressing them both up front and without being defensive. Clearly there are some major concerns about shale gas and some major developments that make it ‘OK’ for the US, although the EPA is likely and appropriately going to develop some protective regulations. In a way the debate comes down to one of regulatory angst: regulators want to regulate energy developers to be responsible and business wants the regulators out of their business. If all businesses were truly responsible then the regulators would be less active. But ‘responsibility’ often is a moving target defined more by profit than safety or environmental considerations. So, for those countries where the geography and geology are favorable, ‘responsible’ fracking presents a great opportunity. For other countries it might not be appropriate. As is happening, fracking will evolve on a country-by-country basis. My concern is in places where environmental protection is not reknown then fracking on a wide-scale will be problematic.
Posted on: 04/10/2013
For countries that have not yet allowed unconventional extraction of gas, much can be learned from the US. In general, the development of shale gas should be looked upon as an experiment that has been taken out of the laboratory—literally, out of a building with four walls where experimentation is usually done—and moved into the countryside, close to homes, schools, workplaces and farms. It is an experiment in progress on a large scale, which some states such as Wyoming, Colorado and Texas have experienced since the late 90’s, whereas other states, such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, are only beginning to understand. All good experiments must have baselines, and that has been a major problem for citizens living in shale gas states. Because of exemptions to federal clean air and water laws, drilling regulations have been largely left to the states to develop and enforce. Some states require the disclosure of nonproprietary chemicals used in drilling, but only after well completion. For example, the Texas Administrative Code (Title 16, Part 1, Chapter 3, Rule §3.29) requires the disclosure of chemicals not considered trade secrets on the web site, www.fracfocus.org. This disclosure is not required until 15 days after completion of hydraulic fracturing. Remarkably, these regulations are some of the strictest in the U.S., but clearly fall short of being adequate. In order to develop an adequate baseline in the event of future water contamination, homeowners would need to test for these chemicals prior to drilling. They need to know not only the chemicals to be used in hydraulic fracturing of a nearby well, but also those used in the drilling process itself (i.e., those chemicals most likely to contaminate aquifers). As for proprietary chemicals, the question arises as to whether an individual’s right to clean water is more important than a trade secret. State and federal regulations in the U.S. have clearly favored trade secrets. Lesson learned: Require disclosure of all drilling chemicals (hydraulic fracturing fluids, drilling muds, etc.) well in advance of drilling so that baseline testing can be done properly. This testing should include all chemicals, that is, no exemptions should be made for trade secrets. Finally, the cost of pre- and post-drilling testing at an independent laboratory with strict chain-of-custody should be borne by the industry but all of the results should be unedited and freely available to all interested parties. Besides knowing exactly which chemicals to include in pre- and post-drilling tests, we must know how to interpret the results. That is, we must also know where to set the MCL (maximum contaminant level), the level of a contaminant above which health effects in people and animals are likely to occur. This might seem as if it should be easy to do, but it is difficult to impossible to answer for a few reasons. First, we must know what the chemicals are before we can set the MCL; secondly, as drilling muds and hydraulic fracturing fluids are composed of more than one chemical, we must know what the interactions are between these chemicals (1). That is, do interactions make them more or less potent? Finally, as endocrine disruptors make up a significant fraction of all known chemicals used in shale gas operations (2) and as endocrine disrupting chemicals may have low-dose effects that are different from high-dose effects (3), we must first understand the pharmacology and toxicology of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Lesson learned: Determine safe levels of individual chemicals and groups of chemicals in the laboratory before exposing the public. Another question has cropped up since shale gas wells, compressor stations and processing plants made their debut on America’s farmlands, and that is, how do the chemicals produced by unconventional fossil fuel extraction move through the environment, and specifically, do they enter our food chain? Could plants and animals that are exposed to contaminants in the air, water and soil absorb these chemicals? Could these chemicals bioaccumulate, that is become more toxic after being absorbed by plants, then animals and finally people? On numerous trips through intensively drilled areas of Pennsylvania to document health impacts (4), we passed many well sites surrounded by cornfields and grazing cattle. No systematic efforts are in place to determine if air- or water-borne chemicals from drilling operations are present in meat or vegetables produced near drilling operations, compressor stations, or processing plants. We can cite individual cases where cattle exposed to drilling chemicals have entered the food supply, but the health implications are currently unknown. The situation has some analogies to the BSE crisis in 1989 where precautionary control measures were taken to prevent the spread of variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease before completely understanding the epidemiology of BSE (5,6). Lesson learned: Determine routes of exposure and test for contamination of the food supply before jeopardizing the public health. References 1. Martin, O. V., Martin, S., and Andreas, K. (2013) Dispelling urban myths about default uncertainty factors in chemical risk assessment - sufficient protection against mixture effects? Environmental Health 12, 53. 2. Colborn, T., Kwiatkowski, C., Schultz, K., and Bachran, M. (2011) Natural gas operations from a public health perspective. Journal of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal 17 1039-1056. 3. Vandenberg, L. N., Colborn, T., Hayes, T. B., Heindel, J. J., Jacobs, D. R., Jr., Lee, D. H., Shioda, T., Soto, A. M., vom Saal, F. S., Welshons, W. V., Zoeller, R. T., and Myers, J. P. (2012) Hormones and endocrine-disrupting chemicals: low-dose effects and nonmonotonic dose responses. Endocr Rev 33, 378-455. 4. Bamberger, M., and Oswald, R. E. (2012) Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health. New Solutions 22, 51-77. 5. Valleron, A. J., Boelle, P. Y., Will, R., and Cesbron, J. Y. (2001) Estimation of epidemic size and incubation time based on age characteristics of vCJD in the United Kingdom. Science 294, 1726-1728. 6. d'Aignaux, J. N., Cousens, S. N., and Smith, P. G. (2001) Predictability of the UK variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease epidemic. Science 294, 1729-1731.
Posted on: 09/10/2013
There are probably several lessons that can be drawn from the shale gas development in the US.
The first one is that the energy sector confirms to be a long-term sector in which changes take 20-30 years to occur. The liberalization of the sector initiated in the 1980's coupled with a long-term strategy of energy diversification promoted since Reagan presidency have helped the "revolution" to take place. The results were astonishing but the basis were already there.
The second lesson is that a revolution never comes alone. When a revolution occurs, there are spill-over effects, both positive and negative.
The positive consequences have been an increase in oil production in conjunction with the gas output. It has therefore pushed prices down and helped the revival of the US industry. On a geopolitical front, it shows that although evenly located, resources can be exploited if the right technology and a strong political support are there. And they can reverse the balance of power in the geopolitics of energy. The perspective of a self-sufficient US is reducing the nuisance power of historical producing countries (and in some cases their oil rents too! with major domestic consequences).
On the negative side, the US shale gas exploit reminds us that it is important to make a "ground-zero" assessment before starting hydrocarbon production in these proportions. It is rather difficult to correctly calculate the methane and CO2 emissions since the massive exploitation of shale gas resources. Europe and other countries (such as China) have the opportunity (and duty) to calculate and mitigate the impacts of these emissions. Flaring is not the solution.
Finally, as many reports have repeated, the same revolution cannot be replicated, and, in a way, it is for good. Air and water standards are not the same in every country, market rules differ, historical legacy of the hydrocarbon sector influences industry reactivity and public acceptance is a major issue that has to be seriously taken into consideration. Civil society has to be part of the entire process, especially in Europe, where cases of early involvement and information sharing with local populations, such as in Denmark, have proven fruitful.
Posted on: 21/10/2013
Having been involved in gas exploration and production, including shale gas lately, for all of my 33 year career, I would like to share the following thoughts on gas in Europe, and more particular shale gas in Europe. My hypothesis is that society should appreciate better how important gas is as "renewable energy enabler". The BIG issue of renewable energy is its intermittency and the challenge it represents in terms of e-grid balancing. Balancing is the key to the energy transition, and gas is the key to balancing. No other source of flexibility can match gas in terms of costs and reliability. Other balancing solutions are MUCH more expensive and, perhaps, less reliable. And: e-grid balancing is simply a boundary condition, it is a must. As a consequence, gas is to be seen as the balancing instrument of choice that outperforms easily any other solution. If the CO2 emissions from combusting gas are a problem, then gas + CCS would be the preferred balancing solution. I challenge anyone to prove (make plausible) that other large-scale e-grid balancing solutions would be cheaper (and more reliable) than gas! (Note: 'pumped hydro' opportunities in Europe are inadequate: there is hardly any further development potential in Europe).
Let me now focus on shale gas. Why shale gas? Admittedly, it requires the construction of many wells and a surface infrastructure of pipelines between the well locations. The impact is mainly noise and traffic during site construction, and spatial imprint. I am convinced that the risk of leakage during fracking operations and during production operations is totally acceptable and controllable. Authorities have the necessary well design experience and monitoring procedures for licensing purposes. There is a sufficient experience in Europe with fracking. In the Netherlands alone we've had over 500 wells fracked without any detectable problem. The risks of fracking have been much overrated by fear mongerers. In conclusion: fracking can be done safely, also the 'Massive Hydraulic Fractures' required for shale gas. So again: why shale gas? The reasons are that we need gas to enable the energy transition and that indigenous gas from European gas fields is quickly depleting. In the Netherlands, the giant Groningen field is losing its flexibility and balancing capability very quickly. We need to find resources that replace the current gas production. Obviously, we can decide to import that gas from Russia, or from LNG, but that renders Europe more vulnerable (security of supply), and it deteriorates our balance of trade (thereby reducing our wealth). Moreover, domestic shale gas development would bring jobs to Europe.
The big BUT is: shale gas is far from proven in Europe. There is much more research and testing to be done before knowing whether it can be exploited commercially. But to decide a priori to bin this opportunity, and not even research it, is emotional and, hence, irrational. National politicians may defuse nimby opposition by pointing out that we need gas to enable the energy transition, and by dealing with local politicians about benefits for the local population, especially in densely populated areas.
1. Gas is to be seen as "renewable energy enabler", as it is by far the most efficient and effective source of flexibility to balance the electricity grids on a large scale. Renewable energy, because of its intermittency, puts a severe strain on these grids and imposes highly challenging balancing problems that must be solved, preferably by the most economic and reliable solution.
2. Europe needs to replenish its depleting indigenous resources of gas, in order to maintain an adequate source of flexibility to balance the e-grids.
3. Shale-gas can be produced safely.
4. Whether shale gas can be produced commercially in Europe needs to be researched.
5. Whether spatial imprint and the environmental footprint of well location construction is acceptable is a political decision and needs to be weighed against the pros of indigenous gas resource development and its enabling effect on renewable energy development.
My question to the panel would be: Do you agree with my above line of thought and, notably, that gas should be much more promoted as being the ‘renewable energy enabler’?
Posted on: 22/10/2013
Shale gas is natural gas extracted from shale rock using high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with high-precision directional drilling. Only in the past decade or so have these two technologies been successfully used to obtain the tightly held gas in shales, which was largely not accessible with older approaches. The result has been a boom in shale gas development: shale gas last year contributed 30% to total production of natural gas in the United States, up from only a few percent a decade ago. For a sense of how recent the shale-gas phenomenon is, consider that half of the shale gas ever produced has been produced in just the last few years. While many countries are considering shale gas development, to date commercial production has occurred only in the US and in British Columbia.
Because shale gas development is such a new phenomenon, the scientific evaluation of its environmental effects is also very new. The first peer-reviewed papers were published only in 2011. A flurry of papers have come out in the past 2 years, and many of these indicate large scale problems with air pollution and groundwater pollution. For instance, rural areas in the American west in states such as Utah and Colorado now have winter-time ozone levels that are higher than those in Los Angeles, high levels of benzene and other toxic and carcinogenic compounds are commonly measured in the air near shale gas sites, and many homes with private drinking water wells have high levels of methane contamination in their water that seems strongly associated with shale gas development. Analysis of data from wells in the Marcellus shale region in Pennsylvania shows that 6 to 7% of newly drilled wells have problems with structural integrity, such as leaks in their steel casings and concrete, which may contribute to this groundwater contamination.
My research has been on the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas. Shale gas has been widely promoted as a bridge fuel, one that allows society to continue to use fossil fuels while producing less carbon dioxide than by using coal or oil. While it is true that less carbon dioxide is emitted from natural gas (shale gas or conventional gas) compared to other fossil fuels to obtain the same amount of energy, methane is the Achilles’ heel for gas. Natural gas is composed of methane, and methane is an incredibly powerful greenhouse gas. Even small emissions of methane from gas development can lead to a very large greenhouse gas footprint. In April 2011, I and coauthors Renee Santoro and Tony Ingraffea published the first comprehensive analysis of the greenhouse gas footprint that included methane emissions. Our conclusion? Shale gas may well be more damaging to the global climate than are coal and oil, because of potentially high methane emissions.
Industry pushback on our paper has been fierce, since our conclusion severely undercuts the bridge-fuel argument. Yet if anything, I am more convinced today that shale gas is a climate-damaging fuel than when we published our paper in April 2011. In our analysis, we used the best available data on methane venting and leakage, but most data came from industry sources and documentation was often poor. We called for better measurements of methane emissions, and in an amazingly short period of time, many scientific groups have done precisely this. Several of these studies are now being published, and others are being publicly presented at international science meetings. Most of the new data indicate methane emissions that are as high or higher than we originally predicted, particularly for studies performed by the US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and by teams led from Boston University and
Purdue University. A new study being published this month (September 2013) by an industry-funded group led from the University of Texas found emissions to be somewhat lower than we predicted, on the other hand, although close to what we had termed the “best-case scenario.” And indeed this new study probably does reflect the best case of what industry can do, when they are motivated to reduce emissions and are being carefully watched: the study only made measurements at sites and times when industry permitted them to do so. My evaluation of the accumulating evidence is that routine emissions from the natural gas industry – for both shale gas and conventional gas operations – are often high at well sites, at storage facilities, and from pipelines, particularly the distribution pieplines in urban areas. At least in the US, these distribution pipelines are often 80 to 100 years old or more and often consist of un-welded pieces of cast iron pipe butted end-to-end.
Our study evaluated the role of methane at two time scales, integrated periods of 20 and 100 years following emission. Methane is much more important in its global warming effects when viewed at the shorter time scale, since methane is removed from the atmosphere on the time scale of a decade. In our April 2011 paper, we gave equal emphasis to both time scales. Since then, a 2011 report from the United Nations and a 2012 paper published in Science by Drew Shindell of NASA have both emphasized the critical need to control methane emissions at shorter time scales. The average temperature of the Earth has risen by 0.7 oC over the past half century, and given current trajectories, we are on target to raise the temperature to 1.5 oC above the early 20th century baseline within 15 years or so and by 2 oC within 35 to 40 years. At these temperatures, we run an increasingly high risk of runaway feedbacks in the climate system leading to even further warming, due for instance to causes such as releasing natural methane now trapped in frozen formations in the Arctic. Simply controlling carbon dioxide emissions will not slow the global warming on this time scale, due to lag times in the climate response to carbon dioxide. The ONLY way to slow global warming over the coming few decades – and reduce the chance of runaway global warming – is to reduce emissions of methane and other short-lived radiatively active substances such as black soot.
From this context, natural gas is a disastrous fuel. Fossil fuels are the major source of atmospheric methane pollution globally, and the natural gas industry is responsible for most of this. Only by weaning ourselves from natural gas can we safely slow global warming. Shale gas at best perpetuates our use of natural gas, and quite likely has even higher emissions of methane than does conventional natural gas.
We have other energy choices. Many European countries are aggressively developing wind and solar power. In the United States, Mark Jacobson, I, and many other colleagues published a paper this past March laying out a blueprint to make the entire State of New York free of all fossil-fuel use within just a couple of decades. The plan calls for greater energy efficiency through replacing domestic and commercial heating by gas and oil with modern heat pumps, and through using electric vehicles in transportation. Wind, solar, and hydro sources would all provide the power. The economic savings through reduced health costs and fewer deaths are greater than the total cost of implementing this plan, and an estimated 4,000 lives would be saved each year in the State due to lower air pollution.
My advice to Europe is to stay clear of the false claims of shale gas as a bridge fuel. Rather, continue to move aggressively towards a 21st Century world where fossil fuels are shunned, and wind and solar power provide energy security, improved health, and reduced global warming.
Posted on: 28/10/2013
The growing geographic extent to which shale gas and oil resources are being exploited across the United States and the intensity of those activities suggest there are many lessons to be shared regarding impacts, regulatory approaches, industry methods, and the public’s response to all of it. The suite of potential impacts from unconventional oil and gas development is large and challenging to quantify. Water quality and quantity concerns gather much attention and there are growing fears of insidious effects on human health possibly related to air contaminants. The heavy footprint of the industry can mar the quality of life in communities and degrade forests and other habitat. The security of crops and livestock is another focus of research.
Other countries would be wise to judiciously study the findings of American academics and NGOs that may be at odds with what the world’s wealthiest corporations largely claim are benign practices. Their extreme political influence justifies skepticism or, at least, cautious interpretation. Resources like FracTracker.org and other groups can provide invaluable insights. Such work must continue so long as unconventional extraction is occurring and wherever it is occurring there must be robust oversight – something that, from my observation, seems woefully lacking.
Posted on: 24/10/2013
A study of the US Energy Information Administration, published on the 10th of June 2013, assesses the potential of 137 shale gas formations in 41 countries outside of the US. There are a few things that stand out in this study if one focuses on Europe. For one thing, it is noteworthy (and sobering) that none of the European countries feature in the top ten for technically recoverable shale gas. That in itself, and the fact that the resource estimate of the EU’s biggest “shale gas daydreamer” has been drastically reduced from 44 to 9 trillion cubic feet, may be the Universe’s way of telling the EU to choose the road less travelled.
The study also clarifies the distinction between technically recoverable resources and economically recoverable resources, which are resources that can be profitably produced under current market conditions. The economic recoverability of oil and gas resources depends on factors such as the costs of drilling and completing wells, the amount of oil or natural gas produced from an average well over its lifetime, the prices received for oil and gas production as well as several above-the-ground factors, such as ownership issues for the subsurface and the availability of independent operators, contractors and experts. Comparing not only the technical but also the economic recoverability of shale gas in Europe to the developments in the US and Canada quickly becomes an exercise in frustration, as it becomes clear that many advantages besides purely geological factors exist and the harsh truth for Europe is that it can only play a game of trying to catch up, while knowing quite well that it never can. Some Member States will undoubtedly be more successful in trying than others.
To make matters even more complicated, one could introduce the concept of the “political recoverability” of shale gas. The best way to visualize this concept is by having a look at the Argument Map on Shale gas production in EU Member States, drawn up by TNO, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research. This map gives an excellent overview of the different arguments for and against shale gas production, along five different dimensions: energy, environment safety, economy and politics. These dimensions make up the political discourse in the EU on shale gas. If one looks at the shale gas debate in the different EU Member States one notices one similarity: a tendency for the general population to be on the “against” side of the arguments. This seems to be true for countries as culturally, politically and economically different as the UK and Bulgaria.
But one also sees many distinctions. EU Member States are obviously not in agreement on the weight they give to each of the five dimensions. It is very unlikely that these different approaches, in combination with the uncontested principle that each Member States remains completely sovereign in the choice of its energy mix, will lead to a meaningful EU-wide policy on unconventional fossil fuels. The debates going on in the Technical Working Group of Member States on the environmental aspects of unconventional fossil fuels – headed by DG Environment - illustrate this. One of the policy questions put to the Member States for their consideration recently was: which option do you consider as the most appropriate to address environmental risks, provide reassurance to the general public as well as legal clarity and predictability to operators? I can’t help but think of the haunting but persistently unanswered question in Tom Robbins’ novel Still Life with Woodpecker: who knows how to make love stay? I won’t claim I have the answer.
Posted on: 30/10/2013
Invisible hands do not live in conventional time. They will not wait until other parts of our human organs have understood the effects of our actions. Having developed the capacity to extract natural gas and tight oil from shale based on the breakthroughs of horizontal drilling and large-scale, multi-stage hydraulic fracturing (fracking), invisible hands needed only to get political approval for start drilling. Several hypothesis worked in their favor. First an economical one: gas shale will allow us to keep having cheap energy available. Second, a national security argument: gas shale will allow the USA to be energy independent. Third, an environmental one: natural gas produces less GHG than other fossil fuels. And several other hypothesis were just buried under these central three. These include hypothesis about (a) the actual production rates and amounts of available gas, (b) the geological effects of drilling, (c) the environmental effects of extracting and leaking methane, and (d) water usage and water contamination. When mentioned, these hypothesis were always favorable and soon to be scientifically supported. The organ in charge presumably, in the head was busy at work and soon will come up with the confirmation of the relevant hypothesis.
These results have started to come out in the scientific tested, peer reviewed, currently being confirmed with new studies literature. And results do not look good for what the invisible hand assumed. (a) The output of a typical well drops more than 80% in its first three years, and 5 plays produce 80% of the total production [Hughes, Nature 494:307-308 (2013)]. (b) Conductive pathways and specific geostructural regimes connect shale regions to deeper formations with the accompanying transmission of gases [Warner et al. PNAS 109:11961-11966 (2012)]. (c) Between 4 and 8% of methane leaks during extraction, so unless leakage is reduced to less than 2% the GHG effects of methane are higher than from the use of conventional fuels [Howarth et al. Climate Change 106:679-690 (2011)]; the use of compressed natural gas in vehicles should reduce leakage by 45-70% below current estimates to have the same GHG effect as conventional fuels [Alvarez et al. PNAS 109:6435-6440 (2012)]. (d) Methane was detected in 82% of drinking water samples, with average concentrations 6 times higher for homes within 1 km radius from wells [Jackson et al. PNAS 110:11250-11255 (2013)]; Cl- and total suspended solids are found on surface water downstream wells [Olmstead et al. PNAS 110:4962-4967 (2013)].
The rational thing to do, say one set of humanity organs, is to not start drilling for shale gas and to stop what is already started. What we have to do without the energy available from this source is to start rethinking our dependence on so much energy. This rational applies to many other problems currently faced by humanity. But the invisible hand seems to act on her own…
Posted on: 31/10/2013
In the United States, the development of shale gas extraction has brought about an energy revolution. In Europe, we are years behind America in this respect. We can therefore benefit from its experience and adapt it to our continent.
Since we don’t yet know how much shale gas resources we have in Europe, the priority should be to build a clear understanding of what the real potential is. To do that, EU and national authorities should encourage exploration.
Positive findings could make a real difference for Europe’s energy, economic and climate future.
In the US, shale gas has increased security of supply – Ten years ago, companies were building terminals to import liquefied natural gas (LNG). Now, they are asking the government for permission to turn around those terminals and export LNG. In Europe, shale gas production has the potential to reduce current dependence on expensive and politically sensitive imports – especially for countries which are heavily dependent on one single import source.
In the US, shale gas has triggered an industrial renaissance. Steel makers and chemical producers see new opportunities there because the use of domestic gas has lowered the cost of electricity. In Europe, shale gas could ease the hike of electricity prices that is crippling the competitiveness of our industries. Shale gas also has the potential of creating new jobs and re-launching economic growth.
In the US, the use of shale gas is leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Utilities are substituting coal with gas, which emits far less CO2. Meanwhile, Europe is currently using more and more coal, therefore complicating its emission reduction efforts. European shale gas production could reverse that trend and help to meet the EU’s greenhouse gas objectives.
Last but not least, in the US, the development of shale gas has helped energy companies to understand the management of risks. After years of production in the US, Europe will benefit from this broad experience and know-how: we will have the privilege of using technologies that have been fine-tuned over years, with more than two million wells that have been hydraulically fractured worldwide.
With these considerations in mind, we hope that public concerns can be better addressed and the technology accepted in our countries.
Posted on: 06/11/2013
(This paper reflects the author´s personal views only) The need for cleaner, secure and affordable energy sources is a challenge for any country with aspirations to become a developed nation. Energy is the engine that moves the modern world. Transportation, manufacturing, services, health, communications, tourism and many other industries and human activities depend on energy, and in an increasingly integrated and competitive world, access to secure and affordable energy sources is fundamental to sustain economic growth.
The main challenges that emerge on a global scale and of particular interest for the energy industry are
•Declining levels of poverty
•Global warming and environmental impacts
•More empowered population
The population reached 7 billion in the world, where only two decades ago total population was a little bit more than 5 billion, and in 1950 half of that. Thus, and if the last decades trends continue, by the year 2040 population will reach 9 billion. As well, it is expected that in the next decades, the places where population will growth the most are Africa, Middle East and parts of Latam.
With population growth, in the last decade we have also witnessed a large reduction in the levels of poverty. The percentage of the population, who lives with less than US$ 1.25 per day (PPP), has diminished from 43.1% in 1990 to 20.6% in year 2010, and in absolute terms, the number of persons living with US$ 1.25 per day (PPP) has diminished from 1,908 million in 1990 to 1,215 million en 2010.
A world with a larger population with higher standard of living, mostly in the emerging economies, is putting a large pressure in the energy markets. The citizens are demanding more benefits and services which are energy intensive. They also have more awareness of their reality, the environment, and have become more powerful and organized. Today, working with the communities and a proper management of the projects externalities are prerequisite for their successful implementation.
Every day we know of new evidence that the problem of climate change has an anthropogenic cause, mostly related to the burning of fossil fuels (see for example the draft paper of the Working Group I, IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis, September 30 2013). Between year 2000 and year 2012 CO2 emissions related with fossil fuels consumption increased by 36%, mainly associated with the increase in coal consumption. China has become the largest emitter of GHG, where in year 2012 accounted for 26.7% of global CO2 emissions, being followed by the US with 16.8%, India 5.3%, the Russian Federation 4.9%, Japan 4.1%, Germany 2.4%, and South Korea 2.2%. Furthermore, China itself has 66% of total CO2 emissions increase between years 2000 and 2012.
The problem of climate change and its anthropogenic cause is an issue of increasing concern, and signals are coming from different places, such as the observation that in 2013 the CO2 concentration level surpassed 400ppm, for the first time since the inauguration of the Volcano Mauna Loa observatory. At the same time, we are confronted with an increasing scientific literature which appraise the risks that we will confront, such as heavy rains, severe droughts, heat or polar extreme waves, rise in sea level, and changes in water supply and glaciers, among others.
Currently fossil fuels represent 87% of the primary energy matrix (not accounting the use of wood for cooking and heating in a more ancient way), where oil represents 33% of primary energy, coal 30% and natural gas 24%.
The first decade of the XXI Century has been marked by a sharp increase in oil demand, mainly from non-OECD countries. And in one decade, on a global scale, oil consumption has increased by 15%, from 78,470 thousand bbd in 2002 to 89,774 thousand in year 2012. Also, expectations are that at today`s consumption levels, current oil reserves will last for 50 years. The US is the main oil consumer in the world, and in 2012 represented 21.9% of total oil consumption, but down from the 25% share it had in 2005. Nevertheless, it is in the emerging economies where we should expect the largest growth in oil consumption, whose increase has more than compensated the reduction in oil consumption from OECD economies.
Among the emerging economies, China in 2012 accounted for 11.7% of world oil consumption, increasing from the 6.7% it represented back in year 2002. Thus, in one decade China almost doubled its oil consumption, and it appears that this trend will continue. Likewise, between year 2000 and 2012 non OECD countries have increased in almost 50% oil consumption, where China has 1/3 of oil demand growth for non OECD countries. Thus, and for a long time, we can expect that oil will continue to have a privileged place in the primary energy matrix on a global scale, playing a key role on transportation and power generation in many countries.
But, what about coal? Well, coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in the world, with proven reserves for more than 100 years. The US, the Russian Federation, China, Australia, India, Germany, Kazakhstan and South Africa, owns 87% of all available reserves. Between 2000 and 2012 coal consumption increased in 60%, being the fossil fuel that increased by large its participation in the primary energy matrix, and China is responsible of 86% of the increase of coal consumption. Today, China is the country that consumes more coal in the world, representing 50.2% of total coal consumption in 2012, and is followed by the US with 11.7%, India 8%, Japan 3.3%, Russian Federation 2.5%, South Africa 2.4%, South Korea 2.2%, Germany 2.1%, Poland and Indonesia 1.4% each. The largest challenge for this fuel to continue contributing in a large manner to the energy matrix is the increasing concern with GHG emissions and the harmful consequences on populations´ health and the environment.
Overall, for fossil fuels the main demands remain in how to build an economy low in CO2 emissions, and part of the answer can be in an increasing use of natural gas. Natural gas has gained an increasing share on the primary energy matrix, with a participation of 24% in 2012, up from a figure close to 15% back in year 1965. The main world consumer is the US with 22% of total consumption, then the Russian Federation with 12.5%, Iran with 4.7%, China with 4.4%, and Japan with 3.5%.
Technological innovations and a favorable investment environment in the US, have made accessible shale gas and oil, and have contributed to revert the declining trend of natural gas production that took place in the first half of the 2000s decade. In the US, and in the second half of the 200 decade, the proliferation of these new technologies has increased dry shale gas production from 0.3 cubic feet in year 2000 to 9.6 trillion cubic feet in year 2012, or an equivalent of 40% of the US dry natural gas production. IEA projections show that, by the end of this decade, the US will become a net natural gas exporter (IEA Annual Energy Outlook 2013). This increasing supply of natural gas has also lead to changes in domestic relative prices, where, in the second half of the first decade of the 21st century, natural gas became cheaper to oil and coal. A favorable business environment and technological changes in the US, have also favored the increase in expected natural gas reserves in North America and other places in the world.
Recent estimates of the EIA (“Technologically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources: An Assessment of 137 Shale Formations in 41 Countries Outside the United States”, June 2013, plus EIA estimates for the US), assess the world technically recoverable resources of shale oil in 345 billion barrels and shale gas in 7,299 trillion cubic feet. Regarding conventional sources, these figures imply an 11% increase in total crude oil resources and a 47% increase in total natural gas resources, and opens huge opportunities for a world with more abundant natural gas resources, as the innovations in the shale natural gas revolution in the US are transferred to the rest of the world. The interest on shale exploration is becoming world wide spread, where Algeria, Argentina, Australia, China, India, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom are considering this technology.
Among fossil fuels, natural gas is the one with the lowest levels of GHG emissions, is more friendly to the environment, and has higher levels of acceptance within the population. Thus, with increasing available reserves, more competitive prices, it is expected that natural gas will play an even larger role on power generation, with the advantage of the higher flexibility of these power plants which makes them appropriate to complement other energy sources subject to intermittency, like wind, solar or other renewable. Conversely, the main concerns with the use of shale gas are the furtive methane emissions and the impacts on aquifers.
Thus, today the challenge is how the countries moves from this new information, of technically recoverable shale oil and gas resources, into the extraction, processing and distribution of natural gas. Technically recoverable resources and economic recoverable resources depend not only on geological - under the ground conditions, but also on the innovations which can make available resources that previously were unimaginable; and mostly, on providing the incentives to bring in the monetary resources and knowledge needed for an extremely riskier activity which requires long term compromises in a dynamic context.
Countries have adopted different business models to secure access to energy. Some with a strong government participation, as owner of the resources and companies, and others with private ownership of the resources and the companies in charge of the different stages of exploration, production, transportation and delivery of the energy required. However, and no matter what is the business or contractual arrangement chosen by a country, at the end they face similar challenges, and it is how to bring the needed investments, innovations, technology and knowledge that are required to feed an industry which needs a long term commitment to succeed.
The case of Canada and the US provides good examples of what it takes to go from technically recoverable resources, of shale oil and gas, to economically recoverable resources. The structure of property rights, institutions, regulatory, and economic conditions play a key role. Institutions matter! The US and Canada are cases where the ease of access and contract structure provide adequate provision to the investors who expect a fair return, by providing adequate incentives for the search and the extraction of the resources. All within a regime of market driven prices, where the free forces of supply and demand interact to speed up or down the needed investments. All these is also complemented with the accessibility to numerous independent operators and supporting contractors who have the critical knowledge and expertise to perform the needed tasks; plus the existence of preexistence gathering and pipeline infrastructure; and the needed water for hydraulic fracturing. Thus, for a success story, countries should look up to create an enabling business environment which provides for the needed resources, technology and investments. In particular, issues related with voice and accountability, political stability, government effectiveness, property rights, rule of law, regulatory quality, control of corruption, financial markets, tax and royalty regimes, investors protection, expropriation risk, expatriation of benefits, cross border trade and capital flows, accessibility to skilled people, are all issues which affect the investment environment and the ease with which these new technologies can be transferred and the shale gas industry can be developed.
The ideas are here, but the main challenge is on the delivery side, in the sense of how countries move from good ideas and goodwill into action, and make the production of shale gas a reality. Among the key obstacles on the delivery side that some countries confront are on changing power balances, rights, and lifting the barriers which are put in place to protect power positions and rents attained under weak institutional structures, which at the end prevent the development of wealth and prosperity for all the population. The political will to transform underground resources into wealth and prosperity for the population should go in hand with the creation of the proper and legitimate institutional structure, which provides the incentives and property rights needed to attract the required investment, technological expertise and knowledge on a long term basis.
This paper reflects the author´s personal views only.
Posted on: 11/11/2013
The "shale gas revolution" in the US provides the rest of the world - especially Europe - with many useful lessons.
The most important ones have to with the role of human ingenuity and ignorance. Before unconventional resources changed the energy landscape in America, two political goals were seen as priorities: providing the country with cheap, reliable energy on the one hand, and reducing carbon emissions to mitigate global warming on the other hand. These two goals were considered inconsistent with each other: to some extent, they were so much in conflict that the way of prioritizing could be described as a proxy for her political ideas. If you believed that promoting economic competitiveness was a more urgent problem than fixing environmental issues, you were a right-winger; if you thought the other way around, you were a leftist. In both cases, the preferred policies relied on large government interventions. A right-winger would have aimed at the mirage of "energy independence", regardless to the potential environmental consequences; a leftist would have supported massive subsidies to green energies, even at the cost of harming the economy and creating a perverse incentive for energy-incentive businesses to move in jurisdictions with cheaper (and often more polluting) energy.
Then came the revolution, and all suddenly changed. Unconventional gas is both cheaper and cleaner than any realistic alternative to it. From an economic point of view, it fuelled a new wave of industrialization in America, making US products more competitive in global markets and created the condition for the country to turn from net importer to net exporter of natural gas (even though political resistances still have to be overcome). From an environmental point of view, the switch to gas (especially in power generation) allowed the United States to cut its carbon emissions much more than the most radical "green deal" - and even more than how Europe did, despite the EU's self-proclaimed leadership in environmental policies.
In practice, most policies were both wrong and ineffective, because they relied upon the unstated assumption that there would be no innovation outside the subsidized technologies. Such policies would have been sound to some extent - if they didn't presuppose that the policy-maker owns information about the future that, in fact, cannot be available in their entirety to anyone. But as long there is a demand, entrepreneurs will strive to supply the demanded goods. All over the world there is a strong demand for cheap, sustainable fuels. Government policies were able to provide, at best, expensive, sustainable energy, or cheap, polluting energy. Market forces proved able to deliver cheaper, cleanerenergies. The lesson we should draw from the revolution is that, if we want a goal to be met, we better rely upon the "animal spirits" of capitalism, rather than on the goverment's fatal conceits.
Posted on: 12/11/2013
The Arctic: A New Tropical Paradise
From world wars to weapons of mass destruction, the 20th and 21st century had events of major worldwide concern. Yet, the news this week about “Arctic Temperatures Reaching the Highest Levels in 44,000 Years” makes all other events pale in comparison……………..
Yes, there will be naysayers, so be it. The truth is all around us today. The fact of the matter is these major climatic changes will affect everyone on the planet in a not so favorable way. It may be almost impossible to stop. I doubt even if the entire world would quantitatively stop using carbon-based fuels today, would the positive effects be seen in a few decades. We are on a freight train out of control with no one taking substantive action to bring it under control.
Go to: http://barryonenergy.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/the-arctic-a-new-tropical-paradise/
Posted on: 02/12/2013
May be it is best to approach this topic by summarizing a bit of the history of shale gas development in the US and the current debate in the US about the merits of shale gas development. Although the development of shale gas in the US has garnered international attention only in the past few years, it is worth pointing out that the “story” actually had quite humble beginnings. It all started in the 1980’s when the owner of a comparatively small Texas-based oil and gas company, George Mitchell, realized that in order to fulfill his natural gas delivery contracts to power plants he would need to find new supplies because his conventional gas fields were being depleted. That there was natural gas in the Barnett Shale (of northern Texas) had been known for some time, but it had always been considered impossible to produce economically. It is George Mitchell’s legacy that he persisted in the face of multiple failures (it took more than a decade) to back a team of engineers and geologists to find a way to economically produce gas from the Barnett Shale. The combination of horizontal drilling within gas bearing shales, and hydraulic fracturing of these shales to tap into a large enough surface area within them, was what made economic gas production from the Barnett Shale (and all other shale gas plays since then) possible. George Mitchell was a very wealthy man when he finally passed away this year, but for the better part of a decade his competitors were merely amused by his seemingly quixotic quest. Only after it had been proven (by Mitchell Energy) that shales can produce gas economically, did larger (and very large) companies get interested and engaged in the feeding frenzy that became what is now known as the “shale gas boom” in the US. Whereas Mitchell Energy quietly ramped up its shale gas operations around the turn of the millennium, the so called “majors” in the oil and gas business (ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, etc.) started to put serious money into their shale gas operations only about 5 years ago. So, the current shale gas juggernaut is not so much a story of big money trying to push some profitable innovation onto the rest of the world, but instead a story of big money trying to catch up to innovation that had been flying under the radar for close to a decade.
For Mitchell Energy it took imagination and persistence to make shale gas development a reality, and it involved taking significant financial risks and investment. As others tried to duplicate this success story in the Barnett and elsewhere (Haynesville, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, etc.) it also has become increasingly clear that shale gas development does not favor the “one size fits all” approach. Every shale play is different, and the parameters that make a shale play work economically (such burial history, organic matter content, type of organic matter, diagenetic cements, pore characteristics) are sufficiently different from place to place to require in each case careful geologic analysis (petrography, porosity and permeability analysis, petrophysical characteristics, etc.) in order to avoid failure and costly mistakes.
As pointed out above, hydraulic fracturing of gas bearing shales is a key ingredient for making shale gas production economically feasible. Also known as “fracking”, the process is much maligned and mis-understood. It is, however, not a new, unproven, and hazardous process that endangers lives and livelyhoods. On the contrary, had it not been for the development of hydraulic fracturing in 1949, our supply of oil and gas over the past half of a century would have been much tighter, and energy prices would have soared to levels that we don’t really care to imagine. In the US and elsewhere, hydraulic fracturing of conventional oil and gas wells is par for the course, and has been so for at least half a century. How to do this is well understood, and it has been done without adverse effects so many times that it probably can be considered just as safe as airline travel. And “fracking” is not only used in oil and gas production. In Germany (and elsewhere in Europe), for example, the method is also used to improve the effectiveness of water wells, waste water disposal wells, and to “stimulate” geothermal wells.
Unfortunately, in the US as well as in Europe, as the debate about shale gas production has become more heated, the facts have taken a back seat to emotions. Today, the way different interest groups define what “fracking” is has become part of the problem. State regulators and oil and gas professionals mean with “fracking” the actual process of fracturing the rock surrounding the well bore. When the topic is reported on in the media, however, or when it is discussed by interest groups that oppose shale gas development, “fracking” often becomes a term that encompasses all aspects of drilling, such as casing the well, the actual “fracking”, and various other part of the operation. The big concern that many opposing groups cite as a motivation for their opposition is the contamination of groundwater resources, and if one choses to do so that concern is actually something that can be reasoned about rationally.
In order to have sufficient pore pressure for gas production, the “fracked” horizontal portions of the wells are typically at depths of 1.5 km’s or deeper, and the induced fractures may extend as much as 400 meters from the well bore. Thus they are typically at a depth of 1 km or more from the surface. Also, because of stress field changes as we get closer to the earth surface, upward propagation of fractures would in any case end at about 750 meters depth. The ground water that supposedly is threatened by “fracking”, however, commonly occurs much shallower, typically at depths shallower than 300 meters. Based on these basic facts it is rather unlikely that fracked rock volumes and groundwater reservoirs are over going to overlap, and the basic parameters that we need to know to calculate their separation are not difficult to come by. There are of course much cited instances of gas making it into groundwater, like those in Dimock, Pennsylvania, but that particular case had nothing to do with fracking. Methane from a much shallower methane producing stratigraphic interval (which had not been “fracked”) migrated upwards along the drill casing and thus was able to connect with an aquifer at about 200 meters depth. The problem could have been prevented with improved drilling and cementing practices, but there was no regulatory requirement in Pennsylvania at the time. Closer regulation of gas drilling could minimize this type of problem, and in fact industry representatives that I talked to would welcome consistent and clearly laid out requirements for drilling because it levels the playing field among operators (cutting corners would no longer confer a competitive advantage). Given the large cost for shale gas wells (10-15 million dollars), it is not in the interest of the operator to design a well by ignoring complications like fault zones or unusually deep freshwater aquifers. Doing one’s geologic “homework” and following regulations is considerably cheaper than loosing a well or getting sued for contaminating an aquifer. If operators fail to do what is required of them there is nothing to prevent government agencies from imposing penalties at levels that will weed out shoddy operators and leave shale gas production in the hands of companies that can do so responsibly.
What we do not need is a climate where we are so fearful of shale gas production that we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to get the facts to make a rational decision on this matter. In the US, the issue whether fracking was safe or not did not arise immediately. Gas shale development had its beginnings in states like Texas and Louisiana where a long history of oil and gas production made for a citizenry that was reasonably familiar with the oil business and did not see this latest development as an existential threat. Thus, by the time gas shale exploration moved into regions unfamiliar with large scale drilling operations (such as Pennsylvania and New York) and was viewed more critically, there were already facts on the ground that could not be reversed easily. So, in the US the merits can and are debated, but a shut-down of shale gas exploration is unlikely. In Europe on the other hand, hydrocarbon exploration and production is in most places something that is unfamiliar, and thus we have a public that is overall not as well informed and as John Billings remarked more than a century ago, “The less we know the more we suspect”.
However, given that general scientific literacy in Europe is higher than in the US, it would be advisable that we do gather the facts about shale gas potential in Europe, do calmly evaluate the risks to the public, and only then make decisions about shale gas exploration that could affect the economic well-being of an entire continent. It is likely that expert analysis concludes that there are areas where shale gas exploration is not advisable, and others where the risks are low or negligible. But to know that is only the first step in a longer decision making process. An evaluation of economic feasibility would be next, and most likely at that point we will have an exploration “landscape” where only very specific areas of Europe would have to be concerned with shale gas exploration at this point in time. Another reality is that shale gas exploration in the US is favored by geology, because large areas of productive rocks are essentially flat lying or only modestly deformed, whereas in Europe prospective rock units are of smaller areal extent, and generally have suffered more tectonic deformation. Together, these two factors disadvantage a good number of European shale gas prospects, and at current gas prices a good many of them lack economic feasibility for some time to come. But in order to make informed decisions, we need to get the facts, and these can only be obtained by drilling into these rocks, collect core samples, and even do a number of fracturing tests to evaluate rock performance. We can debate the merits and dangers all we want, but without facts and data it is a rather pointless exercise. If there is economic potential in Europe shale gas deposits, we need to know about it. Only once we have this knowledge can we make sound decisions on whether to forego the attendant opportunities for the sake of real or perceived “greater safety”, or whether we want to translate the economic advantages into a worldwide more competitive European economy and better employment prospects for the people of this continent.
So, what can Europe and the world learn from the US when it comes to shale gas development? First of all, we should not hobble the entrepreneurial spirit with so much regulation that oil and gas companies that try to understand these rocks are forced to throw in the towel because it simply “is not worth trying”. Secondly, gas shales are highly variable and each has to be evaluated on its own merits. This basic fact is not only key for economic gas production, but also plays a significant role in the associated risks and how to control them. Third, without fundamental geologic and geotechnical data about a given shale gas prospect, discussions about its merits or disadvantages will turn into a pointless argument that serves only one thing – to cling to the status quo out of ignorance. At the moment all we know is that there is a potential for substantial shale gas production in a variety of places outside the US, and this potential is something that may provide a competitive advantage to Europe (as well as other locales) and therefore could be critical for future economic growth. Simply saying no to shale gas before the facts are known seems not advisable. Shale gas development may well turn out to be a fundamental “game changer” for the US economy, and the world economy is rather unforgiving when it comes to poor planning for the future.
Posted on: 03/12/2013
Shale gas and gas from fracking can and will provide a low cost, readily available, environmentally superior energy source for the next 10-20 years. Natural gas will extend from stationary uses to surface and marine transportation. The Western World's dependence on the Third World for energy resources could be erased by the development of shale gas and fracking gas. Greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas are much lower per unit energy than emissions from petroleum-based fuels or from coal.
However, the benefits of any new technology will eventually be overwhelmed by growth in population and demand, unless we can establish sustainable values in our society. Arthur Jevons was right.
Business Services Director
TBD America, Inc
Superintendant of Utilities
University of Cincinnati
Clean Fuels Consulting
Chairman & Managing Director
National Defense University/ Georgetown
Director of the Advanced Energy and Materials Systems Lab
University of Canterbury
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