Articles from 2011
Art Berman and I agree on Gasland
This post will mean a lot to the Texas readership, probably go over the heads of the massive surge in UK readers today.
Art Berman is the US geologist who has consistently said that shale depletion rates are too high and will lead ultimately to higher prices when the shale bounty runs out. He is often quoted in some quarters who oppose shale on grounds that it is unsustainable.
But this is his quote on Gasland, reprinted with his kind permission:
Josh Fox's documentary is not a true documentary because he does not represent any position except his own. Gasland reflects his largely untechnical, uninformed opinion about the natural gas business. I am not a defender of the E&P business but Gasland is a sensational tabloid view of a serious industry that deserves fair representation.
Last week in Parliament
Since the House of Lords doesn't actually have much power, they can at least keep themselves away from normal public policy and some of the noble Lords, Lord Lawson for example, have recently been highlighting how the National Energy Policy Statments don't actually mention the shale word. From page 63 onwards, first up Lord Roding:
I was mildly surprised that there is no reference to the comparatively recent advent, especially in the United States, of shale gas. This was mentioned in a briefing sent to a numberof us last November by the department. It stated:
“Additional supplies in the US may now have a limited impact
on international gas markets (since it is now largely self-sufficient),
unless the US were able to export some of this gas”.
I read an article the other day which indicated that although it is true that current plans to convert some of the LNG terminals in the United States to export terminals have for the time being been set aside, the fact of the matter is that the US is now producing shale gas at considerably below the world market gas price. There must therefore come a point when there will be an undoubted incentive to try to use some of that on the world markets and therefore to have an impact on prices. That is likely to have an impact on the balance of gas on our markets here and might at some stage require a revision of the figures to which I referred a few moments ago.
Lord Reay later on stated:
I should like to say something about gas and take up a point that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding,made. I could find no proper discussion in any of the NPSs about shale gas, and I find that astonishing.Even the Committee on Climate Change, in its report that was published at about the same time, had something to say on the subject, including this:
“There is the possibility that potentially abundant supplies of unconventional gas will result in considerably lower gas prices”;
“The emergence of unconventional gas supplies, particularly in the North American market, has led to the prospect of a possible new ‘dash for gas’ in some regions of the world”.
Yet the Government apparently cannot find space in several hundred pages of their energy national policy statements to acknowledge the existence of this potentially game-changing development. Gas is now cheap, the price having decoupled from the oil price, and it is going to be accessible in many countries worldwide, not least in Europe. It emits 50 per cent to 70 per cent less carbon than coal, with the result that when the previous “dash for gas” took place in the 1990s and
gas to some extent took over from coal, our power station carbon emissions fell overall by some 30 percent.
What is the point of persisting with ever-rising subsidies for wind power in order to meet renewable
energy targets when abundant, cheap and relatively CO2-clean gas is available?What is the point of having to install 130-plus gigawatts of generating power in
order to be able to provide 100 per cent backup for wind power, when 80 or 90 gigawatts would be enough to satisfy peak demand using any other fuels? Do the Government think that consumers will tolerate ever-rising electricity bills in order to be able to enjoy the mystical advantage of having their electricity powered by wind rather than more cheaply by gas?
Evidently, one of the pleasures of the House of Lords is to be able speak some truths.
Debunking Gasland (again)
The Commonwealth Foundation has a good viewing guide for Gasland:
Myth: Natural Gas Drilling Contaminates Water - The safety of hydraulic fracturing is well documented, with zero confirmed cases of groundwater contamination in 1 million applications over 60 years. According to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Oil and Gas Management director, we’ve never seen an impact to fresh groundwater directly from fracking.
Myth: DEP can’t monitor the new drilling - Pennsylvania increased permit fees approximately 1,600% to fund additional inspectors. This has allowed the Pennsylvania DEP to hire more than 100 new field inspectors and open a new field office in Scranton.
Myth: No one knows what goes into fracking fluid - Pennsylvania laws require companies to disclose all chemicals used in the fracking process, but not the specific formula, as that information is considered proprietary. A complete list is available at DEP's website. The majority of the fluid, over 98%, is water and sand, and according to the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), most additives present low to very low risks to human health and the environment.
Myth: Hydraulic Fracturing is not well regulated The Marcellus Shale falls under eight federal and eleven Pennsylvania acts or laws which regulate the impacts of drilling. Before a well is even drilled, thousands of pages of documentation must be filed and all locations are regularly examined by industry and regulatory inspectors.
Actually the fracturing fluid is 99.87% water and sand. But there's more:
Myth: The Dunkard Creek fish kill was caused was by natural gas drilling. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the West Virginia Department of Environment (DEP) ruled out natural gas as the cause of the fish kill. Instead, they found pollution resulted from coal mine drainage as high chloride levels were present in the creek for long periods of time.
Myth: Residents of Dish Texas suffered from illnesses due to pollution from nearby drilling. Recently, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced the results of its own testing of Dish residents, and discovered that residents' exposure to certain contaminants was not greater than that of the general U.S. population.
Half-truth: The 2005 energy bill exempts the oil and natural gas industries from the Safe Drinking Water Act, and other environmental regulations. Hydraulic fracturing has never been regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Moreover, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 earned the support of nearly three-quarters of the U.S. Senate (74 "yea" votes), including Ken Salazar and then-senator Barack Obama.
Gasland mentions Halliburton and Dick Cheney a lot, but the reality today is that the US State Department is actively promoting shale gas.
That's especially relevant given the emphasis in the Co-op report given to the New York State drilling moratorium. NYS is one out of many US jurisdictions and the only one to introduce a state wide moratorium. Does this mean the US Global Shale Gas Initiative, headed by Secretary Clinton is out to poison the world's water? If shale is so dangerous, why would the President sign shale gas memorandums with China and India?
The U.S. shale gas phenomenon has transformed global energy markets. Because we have discovered and we have the technology to develop efficiently large quantities of gas from shale, global prices of liquefied natural gas have decreased. Gas has become cheaper. Gas is now competitive with coal on a BTU basis, which means that countries that might use coal can now not make an economic choice, but on a competitive basis choose gas for their next level of power generation.
It’s also provided competition, gas-on-gas competition, because the U.S. is no longer a big importer of or will not need to be an importer of liquefied natural gas.
So this has been a terrific boon for ourselves and for global energy security, and other countries want to replicate this process. And we wish them the best in doing this, but there are a lot of things that governments need to know in order to develop shale gas safely and efficiently. And that’s why we organized a regulatory conference where we could teach them what they need to know.
Now, their motivation and our motivation as the State Department to engage on this issue should be clear for foreign policy and energy security reasons. Countries around the world need diversity of energy supply. There are countries with millions of people – in fact, tens and some hundreds of millions of people – without access to electricity services. They need a feedstock and they need it for base load energy. They also, in many cases, are dependent on a single country for their source of gas supply and they want some choice.
So it’s understandable that they want to develop shale gas, but we have, in our country, an umbrella of laws and regulations that makes sure this is done safely and efficiently. We have federal regulation of air and water. We have state regulation of land use and water. We have the capacity to monitor and to regulate. And even then, there’s the need for enforcement.
President Obama joining with Hilary Clinton to poison the world? Surely no one can be that paranoid?
The smoking gun of Gasland's flaming faucet
One thing everyone remembers after seeing Gasland is the water on fire. Every picture tells a story and moving pictures are worth several thousand words. But in an attempt to open a debate on Gasland here are some words of the investigation. This is a portion of the report from the State of Colorado to the landowner involved in the famous flaming faucet scene that is the foundation of Gasland's fracking fears.
Interesting fact that: Exhaling can contain up to 99 parts per million or almost eight times Mr Markham's water level.
To bend over backwards in generosity: Fracking is at best one of a number of possible causes of flaming faucets.
The idea that viewers of Gasland have come away with that shale gas exploration and/or production is a unique cause for flames in the water is not factually correct.
Water is very important. But so is air pollution and the amount of CO2 emissions, and the sooner we take advantage of how abundant natural gas can provide solutions instead of creating roadblocks, the better for all of us.