Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Obama, Putin, and Greens Aim to Kill Shale Gas Promise

US President Obama's gang of energy starvationists has been looking for an excuse to shut down the US shale gas revolution for years now. US shale gas has already foiled Russia's plans for the energy blackmail of Europe, and has opened the possibility for a vast new wealth of valuable hydrocarbons from South America, to the Levant, to China, to Europe. But the same gang of anti-energy thugs who engineered an ongoing de facto moratorium on US offshore drilling, now wants to shut down the technology which has kept US industry and the US economy's head barely above water. More on the world shale gas revolution:
The abundance of shale gas and other forms of unconventional gas discovered and extracted in the United States has prompted a new American energy boom and a global shale rush. It has also caused a dramatic drop in gas prices. Could the same happen in Europe?

At the European Union's energy summit in February, no other item on the agenda was as controversial as the impact of shale exploration. Despite protests from the green lobby, EU energy ministers agreed that the potentially game-changing nature of shale would be carefully considered in the next few months.

Unconventional gas is embedded in shale rock formations deep below the earth's surface. These geological strata hold vast deposits of shale gas. To exploit these resources, energy companies drill several kilometres deep into the rock and then horizontally in several directions. According to estimates of the International Energy Agency, supplies of unconventional gas could provide humankind with cheap and relatively clean energy for more than 250 years. _GWPF Benny Peiser
But the lefty-Luddite greens are not ready to call of their great energy starvation and human dieoff.orgy just yet. They have some solid connections within the research community, and people whom they can always call on for a bit of questionable research findings / loose associations. And we all know how easily the news media can confuse loose associations with true causation -- and create an instant crisis of world-ending proportions!
Since April, the findings of a shale gas study by Robert Howarth’s team at Cornell University, widely debunked for its “assumptions and inaccuracies” and, even though its authors admit it is based on “lousy” data, have been covered by eagerly awaiting media. The BBC’s “Shale gas ‘worse than coal’ for climate” is a classic example. The same cannot be said for The Shale Gas Shock report written by Dr Matt Ridley on behalf of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) which attracted a mere handful of journalists to its publication on May 4. While Howarth and co’s scientific ineptitude, as we shall see, makes fear-mongering headlines, the GWPF finding – at the opposite pole – finds shale gas to be “ubiquitous, cheap and environmentally benign”.

The Shale Gas Shock

For Ridley’s GWPF study, shale gas is not only proving to be “a revolution in the world energy industry”, but it promises to transform “world trade, geopolitics and climate policy”. Setting out an erudite history of shale gas and how it offers the world several more centuries of natural gas, point 22 of the report gets to the crux of the matter. “The key question about shale gas is not therefore whether it exists in huge quantities” (it demonstrably does), it is “whether it can be exploited on a large scale at a reasonable price”.

Ridley continues by scotching Bergman’s opinion that only around 10 percent of each shale gas field will prove recoverable, and that the current excitement merely amounts to another “speculative bubble”. Bergman concludes that US shale gas, for instance, may thus only last for seven years and not the 100 years+ widely projected. Ridley points out that Bergman’s audience “is investors, not consumers” and while he concedes Bergman may have a point that some investors in shale gas firms may get their fingers burnt, this will largely be because “their very success drives gas prices down” and/or because “volumes of gas are high”. In other words, the highs and lows of shale gas production would mirror that of any other extraction industry.

While we can expect “a shale gas boom in China”, with Russia being an “impediment” to development and not welcoming competition from shale gas, Ridley identifies Europe as particularly susceptible to exploitation opposition from “entrenched and powerful interests in the environmental pressure groups”. In the end however, “it will be a matter of whether over-borrowed European governments, businesses and people will be able to resist such a hefty source of new revenue and a clean energy source requiring no subsidy”. _A Tale of Two Studies
The informative shale gas report from Matt Ridley is available as a PDF download

A study from Duke University recently published in PNAS links "high" methane concentrations in water wells with oil shale fracking taking place very close nearby. And just like a Jack-in-the-box, US President Obama pops up with a somber expression to say that he may be forced to further energy-starve the American public, the American economy, and American industry -- but only for their own good!

The Duke study did not find toxic chemicals from the fracking process in the well water, and only those water wells which were extremely close to the gas wells were affected. No one knows whether there are any adverse health effects from the levels detected, and it is not known whether this association is widespread.

As long as Obama and the energy strangulationists can be held back from instituting devastating regulations and executive orders, it is likely that improved wellhead casings will put an end to what is a local phenomenon of questionable significance. But if the politicians and their hunchbacked fiends of dieoff.orgiasts are allowed to cut the throat of America's new energy cornucopia, the economic fallout will likely go on for decades.

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