Game changer – Shale Gas

Russ Steele

Humberto Márquez  writing in in IPS News:  Shale Gas Turns the Tables on Petroleum Powers

 CARACAS, Jan 3, 2012 (IPS) – Countries that have always depended on imported oil and gas, like Chile, Paraguay, Poland or Ukraine, and especially heavy consumers such as the United States and China, could become self-sufficient in natural gas in the near future and even start exporting it.

Shale gas – natural gas extracted from shale rock – may well be several times more abundant than the proven reserves of conventional natural gas on the planet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Moreover there are large volumes of natural gas in sandstones, and other non-conventional sources.  

But the real news from EIA studies is that shale gas is abundant in territories previously regarded as poor in fossil fuels or dependent on imports: China, the United States and Argentina head the list, but large reserves are also found in South Africa, Australia, Poland, France, Chile, Sweden, Paraguay, Pakistan and India. 

“The global energy chessboard is changing, and markets will be realigned. Countries that have never had so much available energy will become self-sufficient, and perhaps even exporters,” Luis Alberto Terrero, head of the Venezuelan Gas Processors Association (AVPG), told IPS. 

As gas supplies grow, “fossil fuels may become cheaper, the growth of alternative energies will slow down, and new alliances, investments and trade networks will be established,” Terrero said. 

Global proven reserves of conventional gas total 6,608 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), according to statistics from British-based oil giant BP, and the largest deposits are in Russia (1,580 Tcf), Irán (1,045 Tcf), Qatar (894 Tcf) and Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan (283 Tcf each). 

An EIA study published in April 2011 found practically the same volume (6,620 Tcf) of shale gas deemed recoverable in just 32 countries, and the reserves are differently distributed, with China possessing 1,275 Tcf, the United States 862, Argentina 774, Mexico 681, South Africa 485 and Australia 396 Tcf. 

Furthermore, some countries long dependent on foreign suppliers would have a huge resource base compared with their consumption: for example France and Poland, which import 98 and 64 percent, respectively, of the gas they consume, are in possession of shale gas reserves estimated at over 180 Tcf each. 

In South America, giant oil producer Venezuela is estimated to have only 11 Tcf of shale gas, barely one-twentieth of its conventional gas reserves, while Brazil and Chile, which currently import about half the gas they consume, possess estimated shale gas deposits of 226 and 64 Tcf, respectively. 

Paraguay has an estimated 62 Tcf of shale gas, nearly three times the conventional gas reserves of Bolivia, the top exporter of natural gas in South America. Uruguay, which imports all of its oil and gas as it lacks both, has at least 21 Tcf of shale gas. 

“So far this century, this is the biggest innovation in energy, in terms of scale and impact,” according to U.S. analyst Daniel Yergin, author of a classic history of the oil industry, “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power”, who emphasised that one-third of all the gas produced in the United States is already extracted from shale gas reserves. 

You can read the rest of the article HERE.  The question is how will the oil giants react?  Will they start funding environmental wacko groups to stop “fracking” which is an essential technology to shale gas production. Watch for OPEC  to start funding “environmental opposition” to this economic game changer. Our own EPA is under pressure from the those with huge investments in alternative energy to shut down this competing sources of low cost energy.  Alternative energy will not survive with low cost shale fuel as an alternative.  Follow the money and watch for the wacko articles to appear in the usual sources.

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About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

10 Responses to Game changer – Shale Gas

  1. Russ says:

    Here is what I was refering to, the wackos are ginning up to defeat the Game Changer.

    Not long ago, environmental groups were heralding natural gas as a “bridge fuel to a more climate-friendly energy supply.” Today, New York “progressives” are leading the charge to demonize it as a “bridge to nowhere” — producing “water contamination, air pollution, global warming and fractured communities.” Why the flip-flop?

    The greens thought wind and solar would become competitive as fossil-fuel supplies dried up. But those alternatives proved unrealistic — even as natural gas has become plentiful, thanks to dramatic advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

    The developments made a shambles of the green dream. So the activists are aggressively promoting the view that the natural-gas industry is sacrificing the environment for short-term corporate profits.
    One key distortion: that shale gas is dirtier than coal. Ground zero for that belief is at Cornell University, home to activist Professor Robert Howarth and the Park Foundation, the national funding center for anti-natural-gas research and campaigning.

    Park has poured more than $6 million over the last two years into community protest groups Upstate and anti-shale-gas lobbying by Mother Jones magazine, the Environmental Working Group and more than a dozen other high-profile advocacy groups. It funded the totem of the movement, Gasland, the engaging but scientifically questionable documentary that made the rounds at Sundance and Cannes.
    Howarth and his wife, lab partner Roxanne Marino, are longtime anti-fracking activists. He told me that the foundation recruited him two years ago to fund a study “proving” shale gas was dirty. Last April, the marine-ecosystems expert with no background in gas-related geology co-authored a paper claiming shale generates more greenhouse emissions than coal or oil.

    It would be difficult to overstate the article’s influence, ballyhooed by The New York Times and debated in the British parliament and the European Union.

    More details in the New York Post—http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/ny_greens_anti_drilling_baloney_W6FnnJ6Upq5B4SGqf0OwtJ#ixzz1ibGeXMFT

  2. gjrebane says:

    I agree that established energy producers (fossil and other) will attack the production of shale gas and any other energy source or technology that threatens their income stream (in the same way that drug cartels are against the legalization of drugs). Widespread availability of shale gas is also an enemy of Agenda 21 from whose promoters this energy source will draw additional enemies.

  3. george foster says:

    If the total world demand for energy is 20-40 times the present use the sophistry driven “peak oil” crowd will not be able to stop this development. The delay of one pipeline won’t alter world wide use of natural gas; any negative impact will happen anyway; the positive impact will be to lower “smog” for years as gas replaces coal and oil.
    gf

  4. Sean says:

    Russ,

    I think you are right about oil giants if you mean sovereign nations. Russia has come out against fracking because it diminishes their influence over their European customers. France has come out against it, but I suspect they rather like selling large amounts of electricity derived nuclear energy around Europe when demand peaks. But the oil giants that are public companies like Exxon, BP and Chevron are looking never really had large reserves of oil but had large reserves of natural gas. I suspect they hate the price right now but I see them pushing gas (over coal) for power generation, gas for heat over fuel oil in the northeast and even pushing to convert natural gas to transportation fuels like gasoline and diesel. I think its even quite possible that coal companies may not do badly as shale gas seems to be found in the same region as coal so their mineral right might open up new business opportunities while at the same time, allowing them to continue to export coal. Will the green groups be successful in limiting natural gas? Well our natural gas bill has already started to decline and chemical companies are beginning to look at setting up raw material plants close to the low cost gas, often in regions of high economic blight like Appalachia. Those things buy a lot of good will.

  5. Ben Emery says:

    Russ,
    How about something that is renewable and doesn’t have negative byproducts? Zero impact is not possible unless we go to passive energy sources, which is not realistic. The issue I have with your solutions is that it seems to me all your game changers and answers are the status quo of energy, it is time to move out of the 19th century and into the 21st. Basically a shill for big energy. Full disclosure I don’t have one penny invested in alternative renewable energies. Not because I don’t believe in them but because I don’t have any faith in the system in place at the moment. Big money will squash any real threat to their profits and they have purchased the republican and democratic party leadership to make sure the laws are always in their favor.
    Just look at the electric car for one example.
    I am not saying everything in this movie is indisputable but a good chunk of it is the truth.

  6. Russ says:

    Ben,

    I am not a shill for big energy, I have no stocks in big energy and I do not get a monthly check from “big oil.” I am a realist. Our economy is connected to energy. With out cheap energy we cannot compete in the global economy. Alternatives are not cheap. Natural gas is cheap and produces the minimum about of CO2.

    Now for CO2, the film implies that is a dangerous greenhouse gas. It is is why are temperature declining while the CO2 is increasing. If there is a connection, then we should see some significant warming. Where is it?

    As for the electric car. We have the Volt, Leaf and the Fisker which is being recalled. As tax payer you paid over $230.000.00 for every Volt produced. Are you up for that? GM has recalled all 8,000 Volts sold for battery fires. As for the Leaf, here is why they are not selling up to expectations:

    Taxpayers’ Leaf: Four Recharging Stops Needed to Go 180 Miles

    Consumer Reports has painted an ugly picture of the Nissan Leaf, as did an early enthusiast based in Los Angeles, who described his frustrations with the heavily subsidized, all-electric car in a recent column.

    Now comes what must be the definitive example of the Leaf’s impracticality – this time from a (still) hard-core advocate, whose 180-mile Tennessee trek to visit family over the holidays required four lengthy stops to keep the vehicle moving.

    Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, set out from Knoxville on Monday with his wife and son, headed for the Nashville area. His plan (appropriately) was to follow Interstate 40 West, where a series of Cracker Barrel restaurants – equipped with so-called “fast” vehicle chargers (if you want to call 30 minutes or more “fast”) along the route – would provide an electricity security blanket as the Leaf’s charge diminished.

    Only problem was, the Leaf’s charge dropped more rapidly than promised. In what has to be a public relations disaster for Nissan, Smith’s EV was unable to travel no farther than 55 miles on any leg of the trip – and for the most part, much less. The company, and its government backers, proclaimed the Leaf was “built to go 100 miles on a charge” (large print), with a footnoted disclaimer (small print) that it travels shorter distances (like, 70 miles) if the air conditioning or the heater is used. Turns out even that was an exaggeration.

    It was about 35 degrees in the Volunteer State when Smith departed Knoxville on Monday, and Mrs. Smith and his five-year-old son apparently were not willing to forgo heat in order to make the EV cause look good. A trip that should take – according to map Web sites – less than three hours, ended up lasting six hours for the Smiths because of all the stops they had to make. The approximate intervals where they paused for recharging were as follows: 
    Knoxville to Harriman: 45 miles
    Harriman to Crossville: 31 miles
    Crossville to Cookeville: 31 miles
    Cookeville to Lebanon: 50 miles
    Lebanon to destination in Antioch, just south of Nashville: 22 miles 
    Hence the Smiths required four recharges in order to travel approximately 180 miles. According to the account in The Tennessean, they experienced their first “hair-raiser” range anxiety before they even reached Harriman.

    “The display on the dashboard of their Nissan LEAF showed a drop in available range from 100 miles to about 50, when they had only traveled about 40 miles,” reported the Gannett-owned newspaper, which also owns USA Today, a cheerleader of all “clean” energy projects regardless of viability.

    Now, were does the electric energy come from that charged those Volt and Leaf batteries, a good percentage came from coal fired power plants. Alternative is only providing less than 3% of the electrical energy.

    Who killed the electric vehicle? The American Consumer Killed the Electric Vehicle!

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