Monday, September 17, 2012

Betting Against Shale Gas is a Dummy Play

We know that Russia's Gazprom and President Putin would like for the rest of the world to forget all about fracking for shale gas -- despite the fact that Russia is beginning to develop what is perhaps the most massive tight oil & gas play on the planet. France and Germany seem to be prohibiting fracking for oil & gas -- for now -- and Exxon has walked away from a chance to frack for shale gas in Poland.

But other big companies are moving into Poland and Eastern Europe almost faster than Exxon can remove itself.
Oil and gas investment is flooding into the region in amounts not seen since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Anglo-Dutch giant Royal Dutch Shell RDSB.LN -0.32% PLC, France's Total SA TOT -1.01% and ConocoPhillips COP +0.15% of the U.S. have acquired exploration rights in Poland, where current estimated reserves equal 35 to 65 years of the country's demand for natural gas, according to the Polish Geological Institute.

Ukraine is heating up as well. TNK-BP Holding, a joint venture of BP BP.LN +0.29% PLC and a group of Russian investors, plans to invest $1.8 billion in shale projects at a half-dozen sites around Ukraine. In June, Italy's Eni SpA E -1.37% paid an undisclosed amount for a stake in Ukraine-based LLC Westgasinvest, which holds about 1,500 square miles of land with potential shale-gas reserves. And Chevron Corp., CVX -0.09% which has acquired more than 6,250 square miles of potential shale gas leases in Central Europe since 2009, says it is working with Ukraine to negotiate a production-sharing agreement. _WSJ
It is rather clear that what happened with Exxon is that Russia offered it a piece of the huge Bazhenov fracking play if Exxon would abandon its Eastern European fracking -- at least the part of it that lies outside of Russia.

Gazprom is suffering some reverses due to mismanagement and a corrupt involvement with the Russian government. It will be more difficult for top Russian government functionaries to siphon profits from Gazprom as profit levels drop in response to more competitive gas prices offered to Europe from other suppliers. Gazprom's (and Putin's) hellfire sermons against fracking are being exposed as self-serving ways of trying to cover up a worsening balance sheet.

Germany is beginning to pay a price for its rejection of shale gas and nuclear power. German industry is falling behind in global competitiveness and is being forced to move more and more plants overseas as a result of its government's horrendous Energiewende policy.

South Africa first banned fracking, but is now rapidly back-stepping from its earlier stance. As noted before, Russia is now adopting fracking for its huge tight oil & gas resources after first condemning it. More and more nations are certain to follow suit.

North America was first out of the gate adopting newer, more efficient methods of getting at tight petroleum resources. But the technology is spreading rapidly, and is likely to significantly impact global energy markets for at least 2 to 3 decades.

By the end of that time, several new advanced nuclear fission reactors -- safer, cleaner, cheaper, scalable, factory - produced to order -- are likely to be coming onto the market internationally. These new sources of high quality industrial heat & power are likely to radically change the energy landscape, and push oil, gas, and coal to the margins -- more suited as chemical feedstocks for the future.

As for big wind and big solar? They were never a good match for modern industrial societies, and should probably be limited to third world villages and remote island locations.

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