Friday, January 08, 2010

U.S. Natural Gas Energy > Saudi Arabia's Oil

What's getting all of the attention recently is hydraulic fracturing, a process that involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure to break through shale formations to reach enormous deposits of natural gas several miles underground. New advances in seismic imaging are used to find the shale gas, and horizontal drilling enables companies to reach the gas and bring it to the surface.

Largely through the use of these techniques, U.S. natural gas production has increased 40% in recent years, reversing what was once thought to be an irreversible decline in domestic drilling. Altogether there could be as much as 842 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in shales around the country, which is more energy than all of Saudi Arabia's oil.

There's no economic reason to stop making use of valuable shale gas, but that's exactly what congressional critics of hydraulic fracturing are trying to do. Democrats have introduced measures in the House and Senate that would place the drilling method under federal oversight by the Environmental Protection Agency.

We need to wake up and realize that one of the keys to our nation's economic future and increasing energy independence could soon be a wasting natural resource if Congress needlessly intervenes. Natural gas has provided heat and energy for millions of American homes, has helped fuel the expansion of our nation's factories and industries, and reduced our dependence on foreign energy; restricting this valuable domestic energy resource at such a critical time would be a sure way to raise energy prices, damage our economic recovery, and derail our progress toward greater energy independence.

From my article this week in the Detroit News.


14 Comments:

At 1/08/2010 10:00 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

what is it about 1800 that makes our legislators so anxious to bring about a return to it?

america has succeeded by embracing and driving change and innovation. how did we fall into opposing all change as bad and opposing innovation at every pass?

innovation and dynamism gave america life, but bureaucracy will be the death of us...

 
At 1/08/2010 10:09 AM, Blogger Audacity17 said...

I live in the Fayetteville shale. Chesapeake, Southwestern, Halliburton, BJs etc. are all here developing this area. My brother worked for one of them. They are obsessive about environmental concerns. They clean all this stuff up regularly. We don't need the EPA in this at all. British Petroleum bought a large stake in Chesapeake. I expect sometime in the near future to see Compressed Natural Gas at a lot more filling stations, besides just Oklahoma, for use in new cars. Heavy trucks will still run off diesel...everybody else CNG. So long mideast oil.

 
At 1/08/2010 10:21 AM, Blogger David said...

See my post Powering Down

 
At 1/08/2010 10:26 AM, Anonymous Rand said...

Natural gas can also be processed into hydrogen:

Step1: CH4 + H2O → CO + 3 H2

Step 2: CO + H2O → CO2 + H2

The net effect being:

CH4 + 2 H2O → CO2 + 4 H2

At that point in the process the CO2 can be captured instead of being released into the atmosphere.

 
At 1/08/2010 11:42 AM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

America need natural gas. We can obtain energy independence easily through CNG and PHEVs.

And a whole lot cheaper than occupying entire countries for decades on end.

 
At 1/08/2010 11:56 AM, Blogger Cash212 said...

Is this process clean? I think there is a big battle over the environmental impact of the process here in NY state. Supposedly chemical can get into our reservoirs and force us to spend a lot on treatment facilities. Currently our water is only treated I believe...

 
At 1/08/2010 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Cash212
Here is link to a site that has info on Hyd.Fraccing.
and a quote. http://www.energyindepth.org/news/

EPA THEN …

“Although thousands of … wells are fractured annually, EPA did not find confirmed evidence that drinking water wells have been contaminated by hydraulic fracturing.” (EPA, June 2004)

“Repeated testing has failed to substantiate [allegations] that drinking water sources … are being contaminated or endangered, nor is there any substantial likelihood that drinking water sources would be contaminated or endangered as a result of these fracturing operations.” (EPA, May 1995)

“Hydraulic fracturing has been successfully used … to enhance [energy] recovery from deep, tight reserves. The mechanics of hydraulic fracturing in rock formations is well understood.” (EPA, Sept. 1993)

… EPA NOW

“EPA is particularly concerned about the potential risks associated with gas drilling activities in the New York City watershed and the reservoirs that collect drinking water for nine million people.” (EPA, Dec. 30, 2009)

Click on the video at the link for some detailed information on drilling and fraccing

 
At 1/08/2010 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great link on hydraulic fracturing, thanks.

 
At 1/08/2010 3:51 PM, Blogger LoveCanal2020 said...

There should be some understanding of what is driving the gas industry to tap into these very expensive to produce gas wells. The gas industry was given a huge Federal tax incentive that is set to expire in 2017. This is a prime example of government intervention skewing the marketplace.

One has to wonder if there would be such a rush to tap into this gas if the market was just being driven by price and not by expiring government incentives. There is also pending legislation that intends to reverse the gas industry exemptions to the Safe Drinking Water Act and others regulations-- and please note that other industries have to comply with all these regulations. These unfair environmental loopholes for the gas industry have not only endangered the environment, but they have also skewed the marketplace, and made it possible for the gas industry to use questionable lower cost practices that only now are coming under environmental scrutiny.

As for the change in the EPA statements, the remarks in 1993 were written LONG before this new type of shale drilling (called high volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing) was ever in use on a regular basis. The gas industry makes a point of claiming that fracking has been done for years, which is true. What has NOT been done for years is the combination of methods that allows for recovery of gas in shales. This technique has NOT been studied by the EPA, as all studies that were done on fracking, fracking fluids, and horizontal drilling were done PRIOR to the regular use of high volume horizontal hydrofracturing in shales. Shales also differ in all parts of the country; these differences were never accounted for in ANY EPA studies; in fact, there are assumptions made about the Appalacian shale in every EPA report, due to the fact that at the time of the report, there was no thought that the Appliacian shales would ever be recoverable with the drilling methods available at that time.

So while it may be a clever ploy to point out the differing EPA statements, note that at the time of George Washington's death, bloodletting was considered a medical treatment. It took 50 years to figure out that the "state of the art" in medical technology at the time, actually killed our first President. Technology does change. So too should investigations of these changes and their impact on the land, water and air.

Make certain you understand what is really driving these drills, or the bloodletting that is going on in our shale beds may eventually kill our country's fresh water supply.

 
At 1/08/2010 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gas industry was given a huge Federal tax incentive that is set to expire in 2017.

So, you mean that the government will confiscate fewer of the gas companies profits for the next 7 years, allowing the gas companies to invest those profits in improved drilling techniques with the result of increasing the nations usable gas reserves and reducing the cost of energy to the consumer? Is that what you mean? How terrible and unfair.

These unfair environmental loopholes ... have not only endangered the environment, but they have also skewed the marketplace ...

You mean like the loopholes that environmentalists opened for MTBE? You remember MTBE, right? MTBE was mandated by the government at the insistence of the environmental activists. When it turned out that MTBE was toxic and had made it's way into the water supply they blamed the oil companies for adding it to their products. Then they sued them.

So while it may be a clever ploy to point out the differing EPA statements, note that at the time of George Washington's death, bloodletting was considered a medical treatment. It took 50 years to figure out that the "state of the art" in medical technology at the time, actually killed our first President.

Note that at the time of Rachel Carson's best-seller "Silent Spring", DDT was a safe and proven method of reducing disease associated with mosquitoes. Environmentalists pushed hard to have it banned, resulting in the needless deaths of hundreds of millions of mostly third world children from diseases like malaria. It took almost 50 years to get the ban reversed. Talk about "bloodletting".

 
At 1/08/2010 6:55 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Actually its the New England, New York area that does not believe it needs to worry about this preferring to build plants in Labrador and Quebec. Also would gladly take gas from Tx. This whole area wants the benefits and no costs. Now part of it is that NYC unique among major cities does not treat its surface water supply, and has a system that is falling apart. (See leaks in the tunnels under the Hudson). We can leave the Catskill area be for a bit and go further west for a while. In PA a good bit of the shale area has produced oil for up to 160 years, all be it originally not very cleanly. (See tales of Oil City and Titusville for details, the creeks ran with oil for a while)

 
At 1/09/2010 12:31 AM, Blogger LoveCanal2020 said...

So, you mean that the government will confiscate fewer of the gas companies profits for the next 7 years, allowing the gas companies to invest those profits in improved drilling techniques with the result of increasing the nations usable gas reserves and reducing the cost of energy to the consumer? Is that what you mean? How terrible and unfair

It wouldn't be unfair if they were only just tax breaks. Maybe I should have described these breaks as "subsidies" which is really the actual effect that they will have because they funnel peoples' choices to make deals into areas where they would not have gone had the government not provided the subsidies. The end result is much like what the government did with the Tennessee Valley Authority; the TVA backed by the power of the federal government, promoted electricity for home heating--even when oil and natural gas were cheaper. In effect, these "subsides" for expensive gas drilling in shale are doing the same thing--promoting a fuel and a fracking technology that would not be viable if allowed to compete in an open free market.

As to you other points, I don't see what either MTBE or DDT has to do with the price of gas.

Lyle said:
Now part of it is that NYC unique among major cities does not treat its surface water supply, and has a system that is falling apart. (See leaks in the tunnels under the Hudson)


The NYC water system is currently under massive renovation, which due to its size and length will be an ongoing project, expected to take years to complete. The fact that such a massive system is in need of repairs does not give justification to any argument that says an industry should be free to come in and burden it some more-- if that was the point you are trying to make--"its already screwed up so any additional worries are unjustified". As for the NIMBY attitude, there are only 22 states that have shales; so I guess these states should just become some unfortunate collateral damage for the gas industry and the nation. How patriotic of us. Lucky you if you get to live in one of the other 28 states; but then I guess we will be tapping all your water when we run out of it in our shale drilling states. There is also the problem of where to bring all the toxic radioactive drilling waste; maybe we can bring it to some of those 28 states; Then you can really hear all about NIMBY from them.

 
At 1/13/2010 11:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's the key people we need to
convince the american people that
CNG is the answer to our energy
problems in the near future.

forget for now what we think big
corperations and government can
do.

get the price of CNG conversions
down to very afordable prices.
there is not that much to it so
why is the cost so high.

if the average price for conversion
were $1500 a vehicle. I would convert.and I bet that I have ten friends that would do the same.
now run these cars till the CNG
supply runs low and you will see how fast corperations and government act.

 
At 4/29/2010 11:56 AM, Anonymous Steve R. Ball said...

I own a Honda Civic GX that I am very happy with and live in Washington State. From personal experience there are two main obstacles preventing private individuals from driving CNG vehicles:

CNG distribution and the cost of the composite tanks (which is around 2k for a replacement tank for the Honda)

The new tanks are now rated for 25 years and so although expensive to buy, are not as expensive as batteries.

As for refueling; although the under powered and overly expensive "Phil" is back on the market, for home refueling, the cost just does not make sense.

I have found a Chinese manufacturer that produces a home fueling unit capable of pumping approximately 6gge per hour (about 12 times the production of the Phil) and comes with the first rebuild kit, giving you a total of 8000 running hours for about the same cost as the Phil (on a wholesale basis) This offers the capability of refueling in an hour or so instead of requiring a machine to run all night.

I am currently seeking help financially and otherwise to complete my investigation and help finance the import of the first few of these units, to help open up the NW and any other areas where commercial refueling stations are not readily available. My local Honda dealer has already expressed an interest in packaging them with the GX's they sell, as would I am sure many Honda dealers.

This is an important cause and I am just one person. I would appreciate anyone with the interest, qualifications, money, and or energy, to help open up this market, get in touch with me and help bring this project to fruition. If people can easily refuel, the majority of us travel continuously within a 100 mile radius of our homes, I now spend $10 per week to refuel instead of $60 it was costing me with my traditional vehicle, and I am doing something good for the environment, please join me.

Steve R. Ball
425-210-0184
steverball@gmail.com

 

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