The NYT final story of 2011 on shale is a bit worrying.  Shale goes international and Ian Urbina's exaggeration and mis-information follows.

 South Africa is among the growing number of countries that want to unlock previously inaccessible natural gas reserves trapped in shale deep underground. The drilling technology — hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for short — holds the promise of generating new revenue through taxes on the gas, creating thousands of jobs for one of the country’s poorest regions, and fueling power plants to provide electricity to roughly 10 million South Africans who live without it.

I'm not South African, but permit me to ask a question:  Where were all these (white) farmers protests during the battle against apartheid?

A key trend of 2012 will be the acceleration from coal to gas in generation.  That's a win for the environment and a win for energy security. Most people don't realise that in 2009 for example, 70% of UK coal was  imported and 70% of that came from Russia. Coal prices soared in 2010 making imports less attractive but still 50% of the total.   

Coal has been around so long that the energy experts who missed shale gas haven't thought about coal either. Coal was always considered to be so prevalent and cheap that it was the first choice for electricity generation worldwide, especially in emerging countries. China and India were considered so desperate to electrify on cost alone that the expert opinion of coal as the fuel to beat was as cast in stone as the idea that natural gas was expensive and insecure.

Let's put the latest numbers of Barnett Shale Production from October 2011 in perspective:

 Tarrant County is still a runaway No. 1 in natural gas production among Texas' 254 counties, according to the latest data released by the Texas Railroad Commssion, the chief regulator of the state's oil and gas industry. Tarrant's gas output was 62.2 billion cubic feet in October, the latest month for which data is available. Johnson County, Tarrant's neighbor to the south, is No. 2, at 39.4 billion cubic feet. Denton County is No. 4, at 19.7 billion, while Wise County is No. 5, at 19.2 billion. All four counties are on the list because they are leaders in production from North Texas' natural gas-rich Barnett Shale. Prior to the Barnett play, Tarrant County's production historically had been nil.

David MacKay is a physics professor who is also chief scientific advisor to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. 

From the Guardian today:

Every person in Britain will need to pay about £5,000 a year between now and 2050 on rebuilding and using the nation's entire energy system, according to government figures. But the cost of developing clean and sustainable electricity, heating and transport will be very similar to replacing today's ageing and polluting power stations, the analysis finds.