Shale Gas 2010
Behind the times behind the Times firewall.
- Published: 13 December 2010
If you pay for information, as The Times now asks, one should expect slightly better advice than this:
Not far from Blackpool Pleasure Beach, a group of engineers is leading Britain toward an energy revolution. Cuadrilla Resources, an explorer backed by Lord Browne of Madingley, former chief executive of BP, has drilled the first well there to strike gas trapped in rock formations deep underground.
If the gas flows out at commercial rates, the implications for Britain’s supplies could be profound.
So far so good, but then:
Martin Copeland at Lexicon Partners, the investment bank, is sceptical that America’s success can be repeated here. “Clearly there are shales everywhere but what is not clear is whether they can be produced commercially here. We are where the US was 15 years ago,” he said.
This is ridiculous on a number of levels:
1. US shale production through the combination of horizontal drilling and hydrofracking didn't even start until 2002 in the Barnett.
2. Things have moved on since then. Is Cuadrilla, for only one example using 2002 technology today?
3. As my readers know, the story of shale is that it is simply another industrial process, i.e. one of continuous improvement. To say because we are the same time stage of US development as in 2002 doesn't mean that we are condemned to make another eight years worth of the mistakes, dead ends and yes, successes that have come to pass in the Barnett, and then the Haynesville, Marcellus, Montney, Horn River and the Eagle Ford. Eight years ago the US was at point A and today is A+8. That doesn't mean that we have to go back to the drawing board and re-invent the wheel to reach that level. We won't simply go straight to A+8, but we don't start at A either.
The reality is that Cuadrilla are at worse, at the stage of the Marcellus in 2006 or 2007. Which means that we could be, if the geology exists, only three to four years away from potentially producing similar amounts to the Marcellus or Barnett today.
And as I point out behind my paywall:
The Barnett Shale went from effectively no contribution at all in 2002 to 40 Billion Cubic Meters
or 6% of entire US production by 2008. But even more astoundingly, by September 2010
the entire Barnett production history, concentrated in the past few years was over 8 trillion
cubic feet (254 BCM) or over a third of annual US consumption and the entire EU gas annual
Why would Lexicon say this? Possibly they want to keep the deals flowing in renewables and nuclear as shown on their web site.