Jason Barton

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Projections for U.S. Shale Gas Continue to Rise

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This is potentially excellent news, so long as the companies that explore for and extract this gas are willing to cover the costs for any damage to human health or the environment.

Read more about shale gas here.

Shale-Gas Output May Double by 2035, Reducing Energy Imports, U.S. Says

By Simon Lomax – Dec 16, 2010 3:41 PM MT

Production forecasts for natural gas locked in shale have doubled, which will help the U.S. become less reliant on imported energy, according to a federal agency.

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The Annual Energy Outlook predicts imports will meet 18 percent of U.S. demand by 2035, down from 24 percent last year. Higher prices will spur fuel production, including natural gas, oil and coal, the agency said. Tougher energy-saving rules, such as fuel-economy mandates for new cars, and a boost in biofuel production from crops such as corn also will make the U.S. less reliant on imports by 2035, according to the forecast.

Overall U.S. energy consumption will jump 21 percent by 2035. Coal will remain the “dominant energy source for electricity generation,” although more natural-gas fired plants will be built because of higher supplies of the cleaner-burning fuel, according to the outlook.

The agency forecasts construction of five nuclear plants by 2035, contributing to a 10 percent increase in electricity generated from atomic power. The share of electricity from renewable sources such as hydroelectric dams and solar panels will rise to 14 percent in 2035 from 11 percent last year, according to the outlook.

Read the entire article here.

Positives as well as Overlooked Negatives of Shale Gas

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The article below is absolutely correct in explaining that energy endeavors that produce jobs and other forms of prosperity for Americans ought to be pursued. Our society needs energy to flourish just as people need work that is safe and pays decent wages.

My concern is that some shale gas operations may come with such risk, given today’s technology, that their potential costs outweigh their benefits. These costs are realized in terms of aspects such as lost work and health care, as well as un-monetized costs in potential ecological damage.

Tough choices. It’s a fascinating time to be alive. I’d happy to go in to more specifics on how we make these choices if anyone is still reading and sufficiently interested to ask.

Marcellus Shale Gas Boom: Energy, Cash and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

August 29, 2010

By Mondoreb

Energy boom in SW Pennsylvania, Northern WV

There’s a lot of drilling for natural gas going on in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia: the rush to tap the huge natural gas reserves of the Marcellus Shale fields. The drilling and building of pipelines has meant an oasis of prosperity during a time of dreary economic news nationwide.

[Click images to enlarge; click again to super-size them]


JOBS, CONSTRUCTION & ENERGY IN THEM THAR HILLS

While most of the nation has been suffering through high unemployment, defaults, foreclosures and other Recovery Summer worries, one section of the country has quietly been prospering.

The southwestern Pennsylvania-norther West Virginia area has seen a boomlet of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale field. Construction, jobs, drilling and trucks hauling equipment have been common sights along the roads of this mostly rural area during the last 18 months.

Marcellus Shale Jobs. What Kinds Are There and Where?

The Marcellus shale will turn out to be the largest job creator in Appalachia and other parts of the Northeast United States in recent history.

This massive domestic reserve of natural gas, which some experts believe holds up to 500 trillion cubic feet of gas, will provide good paying jobs for skilled and semi-skilled workers.

Read the entire article here.

The Hope and Peril of Shale Gas

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Here’s yet another perspective in the ongoing discussion over shale gas and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking, spelled (“fracing” below by Samuelson).

I agree that natural gas provides great promise for the next several decades, especially as it diminishes our reliance on dirtier coal and dirtier and imported oil. But let’s look at that new estimate 90 years worth of gas coming from these new, deeper sources previously locked within shale.

If we move to more vehicles powered by LNG and swap out coal for gas in electricity generation, that 90 years must shrink as estimates on availability are projected according to current use. This means that gas is very helpful to me and maybe to any kids I may one day have, but even within those kids’ lifetimes, and definitely within the lives of the next generation, we’re going to have some serious problems.

As Samuelson says, natural gas is not a panacea. Yes, we should use it, as well as planning on using every drop of petroleum and every last chunk of coal. Continued innovation on other, renewable forms of energy now, not 20 years from now, will ensure that we sill have available gas, coal, and oil 500 to 1000 years from, rather than only 50 to 100 years from now.

This also ties in with the environmental threats posed by shale gas, only briefly mentioned by Samuelson. He says that fracking has been occurring decades “without polluting water supplies,” but the movie he cites, HBO’s “Gasland,” illustrates that this is not accurate.

Developing other energy technologies means that we can hold off on drilling for the supplies that are tougher to access until safer technologies have been developed.

Increasing supply of a diverse suite of energy options while diminishing our demand makes prudent decisions much more likely than if, 30-50 years from now, we are scrambling for any energy sources that are available.

Shale gas: Hope for our energy future

By Robert J. Samuelson
Monday, August 2, 2010

You probably have never heard of oilman George Mitchell, but more than anyone else, he has changed the global energy outlook. In 1981, Mitchell’s small petroleum company faced dwindling natural gas reserves. He proposed a radical idea: drill deeper in the company’s Texas fields to reach gas-bearing shale rock more than a mile down. Because the gas was tightly packed, most engineers believed it was too costly to extract profitably. But after nearly two decades of trying, Mitchell proved doubters wrong. The result: The world has far more available natural gas than anyone suspected.

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How much shale gas exists is unknown, but estimates are huge. The Potential Gas Committee is a group of geologists who regularly estimate future U.S. gas supplies. In 2000, the group’s estimate equaled about 54 years of present annual consumption; by 2008, it was almost 90 years. “This isn’t the end,” says Colorado School of Mines geologist John Curtis. Globally, one study estimated the recoverable supply at 16,200 trillion cubic feet, more than 150 times today’s annual world gas use.

Some standard drilling techniques, applied imaginatively, liberated shale gas. The first was “fracturing” (also called “fracing”): injecting liquids into reservoirs to create openings that allow the gas to flow up the drill pipe. For years, Mitchell’s engineers experimented with different “fracing fluids.” All were expensive, and the resulting gas flows weren’t profitable. In 1997, engineers tried a less costly mix of sand and water. The economics of shale gas improved dramatically, says Dan Steward, a former geologist for Mitchell.

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Shale gas has many virtues, but gains will come at the margin. It isn’t a panacea for every energy ailment.
Consider the impact on oil imports. In theory, natural gas — compressed or converted into a liquid — could replace oil in some vehicles. But natural gas now fuels only about 120,000 of roughly 250 million U.S. cars, vans, trucks and buses. At today’s prices, natural gas is competitive with oil, but there’s a chicken-and-egg problem: Drivers won’t use it without filling stations; companies won’t build stations without drivers.
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The second threat to shale gas is over-regulation. Environmentalists are split. Some favor shale gas as a desirable “bridge fuel” until use of non-carbon energy expands. Others argue gas drilling will threaten drinking water supplies; that was a theme of “Gasland,” a film shown this year on HBO. The charges seem overblown. As the BP spill reaffirmed, all drilling requires regulation. There are environmental issues, especially the safe disposal of “fracing fluids.” But onshore drilling, including “fracing,” has proceeded for decades without polluting water supplies. In shale gas, thousands of feet typically separate shale deposits from water tables.

Read the entire article here.

Shale’s a curse and blessing for natural gas

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Here’s another installment in the ongoing discussion about the potential for oil and gas from shale. It is interesting and important to put this discussion, about an uncertain technology with great negative and positive potential, in the context of the current spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Given time to work, technologies for shale and deep sea drilling both hold tremendous promise. Rushing them to market before they are ready and reliable poses equally tremendous risks.

By Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch

TOKYO (MarketWatch) — A supply surplus has made natural gas a cheap source of energy, and its growing production from so-called “unconventional” sources such as shale may be destined to keep it that way.

“Natural gas is at a historically cheap price, assuming we’re just looking at the last ten years, but one major issue not affecting other energy markets is driving the price lower and lower,” said Neal Ryan, managing partner at Ryan Oil & Gas Partners LLC.

Driven by the nation’s growing need for energy and high natural-gas prices in recent years, interest in gas derived from shale, a geologic formation, has increased despite the high costs involved with developing the sources.

“Shale gas provides the largest source of growth in U.S. natural gas supply,” according to the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2010 report.

U.S. shale gas production was at 2.02 trillion cubic feet in 2008, up from 1.18 trillion cubic feet in 2007, government data show.

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“Now many of those companies are being forced to continue drilling plans formulated for a much higher market price in order to protect those lease investments,” he said.

That’s “a dangerous spot to be in because the domestic market doesn’t need this gas right now, but companies are stuck having to protect their capital investment,” he said.

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Total U.S. natural gas consumption by end use fell to 22.8 trillion cubic feet in 2009 from 23.2 trillion cubic feet in 2008, according to the EIA.

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Even so, right now there are “a large number of wells that are being drilled to hold leases,” said James Williams, an economist at WTRG Economics, explaining that if a well is not drilled on a new lease within 3-5 years, then control of the mineral rights reverts to the owner and the lease is void.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

May 28th, 2010 at 4:05 pm

The Promise of Shale Gas

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This important subject has been addressed on this site before, and as I said then, if we can manage our demand for natural gas, we can give these companies time to develop this fracturing technology so that it can be done in more cost effective and environmentally responsible ways.

February 19, 2010

Ken Silverstein, EnergyBiz Insider
Editor-in-Chief

Advanced drilling and completion techniques are the critical means by which natural gas developers now hope to probe vast amounts of shale gas, considered by many to be able to fuel much of the country’s electric generation for decades to come. But before that aspiration can be achieved, producers must solve the environmental complexities.

At issue is how to retrieve such vast resources without harming water quality. The problem is that the shale is a sedimentary rock that holds natural gas 2,000-12,000 feet deep in the earth. To get it out, developers use a process known as hydraulic fracturing whereby millions of gallons of water and chemicals are pumped into the ground, allowing the natural gas to flow to the wellbore.

Read the entire article here.

New Study Finds that Fracking is Safe

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I agree wholeheartedly that it is entirely possible to conduct fracking safely, but also think the scientist from Duke makes a very important point:

‘This is good news,” said Duke University scientist Rob Jackson, who was not involved with the study. He called it a “useful and important approach” to monitoring fracking, but cautioned that the single study doesn’t prove that fracking can’t pollute, since geology and industry practices vary widely in Pennsylvania and across the nation.’

There’s no doubt that hydraulic fracturing can be and generally is done without harming water supplies. The problem is that, as we continue to demand the lowest possible prices for electricity, there is considerable incentive for some, less scrupulous companies to cut corners in their safety and compliance efforts. I am not a proponent of larger government that stifles the free market, but believe there is a place for simple, transparent regulation that ensures future generations have clean water, air, and other natural resources. Citizens must also remain vigilant to keep companies honest, and an effective media is also essential to provide accurate, objective information to keep everyone honest.

Study finds fracking chemicals didn’t pollute water: AP

July 19, 2013, 5:41 AM

A Consol Energy Horizontal Gas Drilling Rig explores the Marcellus Shale outside the town of Waynesburg, Pa. in April 2012

A Consol Energy Horizontal Gas Drilling Rig explores the Marcellus Shale outside the town of Waynesburg, Pa. in April 2012.

 

PITTSBURGH A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, the Department of Energy told The Associated Press.

After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water, geologist Richard Hammack said.

Read the entire article here.

Efficiency, Innovation, Natural Gas are Keys to Energy Security

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Former Presidents Bush and Clinton are walking a fine line, balancing between taking advantage of the cost effective resources we have now, such as oil and gas, and the need to protect our energy security and natural environment for generations to come.

Two former presidents share many energy views

By JENNIFER A. DLOUHY and TOM FOWLER
HOUSTON CHRONICLE

March 12, 2011, 2:28AM

Oil will be essential for fueling the U.S. for decades to come, but low-emission natural gas and improved efficiency will bridge the transition to cleaner alternative fuels, business leaders, two former presidents and energy analysts said Friday.

Former President George W. Bush told a packed ballroom of energy executives at the CERAWeek conference that while the U.S. has a vision of new technologies to power our homes and propel our cars, the nation needs to be prosperous to afford them. And that prosperity, Bush said, is tied to oil and natural gas.

Although they have been political adversaries, Bush and former President Bill Clinton agreed that the U.S. should do more to harness the promise of natural gas, which produces fewer emissions than coal and oil.

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But he cautioned that the nation needs to make sure that the hydraulic fracturing process, used to unlock vast stores of gas in shale formations, doesn’t contaminate drinking water supplies or create an accident that shuts down the industry the way last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill stopped most offshore drilling.

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‘We’ve got to take action’

Big energy consumers said they are scrambling to offset spikes in crude prices and eke out more per barrel by boosting efficiency.

Read the entire article here.

Natural Gas Is Fantastic Now, But Let’s Not Rest On Its Laurels

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This is a great example of apparent abundance of fossil fuels now becoming a strain on supply in the near future. Natural gas is clearly a comparatively clean option in the traditional energy matrix, and we ought to keep using more of it, decreasing our reliance on coal and imported petroleum. But if this article is accurate in its telling of nuclear and wind power generation decreasing because of increasing supplies of natural gas, we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot.

Another, recently posted article on this site listed about 90 years worth of natural gas available in the US, which I assume is based on current use levels. If we use more gas and less coal for electricity, and use more LNG to power our vehicle fleets, that 90 years will move down towards 50 years. Broadcasting that we have more than enough fossil fuels gives a false sense of security and lends itself to the license to continue wasting energy through inefficiency. Add in the disincentive to continue innovation in renewable energy supplies and the picture for the next generation gets pretty bleak.

Use the gas, sure, but let’s not make the ignorant assumption that we can continue with business as usual when it’s clear that, for economic, environmental, issues of national security, our energy system is in desperate need of an overhaul in the next two decades at the most.

Natural gas proves to be energy game-changer

Its sudden abundance is a boon to many and a pain to its competition

By JONATHAN FAHEY
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Oct. 17, 2010, 7:42PM

NEW YORK — By unlocking decades’ worth of natural gas deposits deep underground across the United States, drillers have ensured that natural gas will be cheap and plentiful for the foreseeable future. It’s a reversal from a few years ago that is transforming the energy industry.
The sudden abundance of natural gas has been a boon to homeowners who use it for heat, local economies in gas-rich regions, manufacturers that use it to power factories and companies that rely on it as a raw material for plastic, carpet and other everyday products. But it has upended the ambitious growth plans of companies that produce power from wind, nuclear energy and coal. Those plans were based on the assumption that supplies of natural gas would be tight, and prices high.
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The U.S. uses natural gas to produce 21 percent of its electricity. Coal is the dominant fuel, accounting for 48 percent of the electricity mix. By 2015, natural gas is predicted to reach 25 percent, while coal is expected to fall to 44 percent.

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Natural gas, which had traded at about $2 per million British thermal units in the 1990s, hit nearly $15 in 2005. It is now about $3.50, driven lower by reduced industrial demand and rising production by those learning to make a profit from shale gas at ever lower prices.
[…]

Plans for nuclear plants and wind farms were made under the assumption that gas prices would average $7 to $9. At that level, electricity prices would be high enough to make wind and nuclear power look affordable. Now many of these projects suddenly look too expensive.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

October 18th, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Does New Republican Bill Signal Bipartisan Support for Clean Energy Investment?

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Posted by Jesse Jenkins
A windfarm is seen 30 December 2006 near Palm ...Image by AFP via @daylife

New legislation introduced by Republican Representative Devin Nunes (CA) and backed by several GOP House members would invest billions into renewable energy deployment, signaling an opportunity for bipartisan support for clean energy technology policies.

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As Curwin notes, Nunes’ plan would rely solely on new revenues from oil and gas leasing to fund the renewable energy investments, including the always contentious proposals to open up areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as well as the development of oil shale resources and expanded offshore drilling. While more offshore drilling enjoyed bipartisan support just months ago, in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf, the prospects for new offshore oil and gas production are uncertain.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

August 25th, 2010 at 2:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Water among victims of gas drilling process

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Here is another article on what is to me an interesting and very important subject: hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Not only is it a human health concern, or even just a matter for energy, trying to balance the advantages of the free market with the need for some sort of safety regulation is an effort that spans so many aspects of life in a capitalist society.
Published: August 22, 2010

Fracking. It’s a word you probably hadn’t heard a year or two ago. Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had to postpone a public hearing on the subject in Syracuse, N.Y., because of concerns the venue might not be able to accommodate the 8,000 or more people expected to show up and speak about the subject.

Both New York and Pennsylvania residents are getting to know “fracking,” an issue that’s of increasing concern to people in these states and the others that sit on what’s known as the Marcellus Shale – a geological formation that stretches north from West Virginia. In total, this shale contains what may be the biggest natural-gas deposit in the world.

To extract the fossil fuel, companies first drill deep wells and then use a technique called hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” for short. It’s a process that injects, under high pressure, huge amounts of water laced with sand and more than a hundred chemicals into rock formations deep under the ground.

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Chemicals and water – there’s your first clue to why people are alarmed. A report released by the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association this month showed that there have been 1,435 violations of the state oil and gas laws in the past 2.5 years – at least 952 of which affect the environment. That’s more than one a day, the Sierra Club notes.

Read the entire article here.