Monday, April 23, 2012

Shale Energy: We Have Barely Scraped the Surface

The energy world is changing in ways that were not predicted just a few short years ago. Peak oil and peak oilers were sitting on the top of the world just two years ago. Since then, the real world has been less and less kind to them.
More than 50 years ago energy experts began speaking of “peak oil” – the idea that the world was passing the point of maximum production and that supplies would decline. Today, shale calls that assumption into question. In the US new extraction techniques have transformed gas production, opening reserves that some estimate will last 100 years. Liquid-rich shales – ones that also contain oil – have enabled the US significantly to cut its dependence on crude imports.

Shale also has the potential to reshape domestic economies. In this year’s State of the Union address. President Barack Obama said experts predicted it would support 600,000 jobs, with more to follow as industries that rely on cheap energy were brought back onshore. Lord Browne, the former chief executive of BP and now a partner at Riverstone – backer of Cuadrilla Resources, a company exploring for shale gas in the UK – is convinced it is a prize worth pursuing.

“Ultimately, shale gas gives us options for the future. It puts our energy supply in our own hands, as well as providing obvious economic benefits. It is clear that shale will be one of the linchpins of global energy supply in the 21st century, alongside nuclear and renewables,” he says.

Shales are the most abundant form of sedimentary rock on earth, serving also as the source rocks for hydrocarbons that migrate into conventional reservoirs. Nigel Smith at the British Geological Survey, a research council, uses the analogy of looking for something to eat in a house. “All the food in the kitchen, the cupboards, the fridge and the freezer – that’s the hydrocarbon source rock kitchen. The conventional hydrocarbons that we have used so far have migrated to the dining room. We are going back into the kitchen to see what is still left in the source rocks or shales.”

The apparent abundance of riches in the “kitchen” is causing a stir around the world. Aside from Argentina, significant reserves have been identified in Australia, South Africa, northern Africa and eastern Europe as well as in the UK and France. After an assessment of the potential in 32 countries the Energy Information Administration, a US federal agency, has estimated shale could increase the world’s technically recoverable gas resources by more than 40 per cent. _FT_via_GWPF

With reserves as huge as those of many countries, not only will they use the resource themselves, they will certainly begin to export the resources to other nations. That phenomenon will shake world energy markets to their foundations. Just imagine: Russia's Gazprom will not only lose some of its best customers in Europe and Asia to their own shale gas resource. Gazprom will also be forced to compete with their former customers, as they turn into exporters themselves!

That is not what Mr. Putin wants to see, just as he is in the middle of plans to "re-build the USSR!"



Blogger Whirlwind22 said...

But dont we have to worry about the net energy cliff and the Olduvai Theory of declining EROEI? I assume you have heard of them?

12:14 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

The best thing to do when one "hears of" complete garbage, is to eradicate all memory of the stinking detritus.

Doing so allows the mind to work with the freshness of a clear blue mountain springtime. You know, when your mind is invigorated and energised, clear and ready to take on the universe?

Filling one's mind with fearful doomsday garbage can turn a body into a quivering mass of protoplasmic dread.

1:04 PM  

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