Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Shale gas: Don´t do it the French way!

The new EIA (US Energy Information Administration) shale gas report is still - and rightly so - reverbarating in the media. According to the Energy Tribune the report "makes clear, we need to ditch the alarmism of the doom and gloom-mongers once and for all. While talk of energy crises sell books and make eye catching headlines, the fact is that current circulating maps of global energy reserves have been rendered meaningless."

The Energy Tribune cites the EIA estimate that shale gas adds 40% to the world gas resources:

To put this shale gas resource estimate in some perspective, world proven reserves of natural gas as of January 1, 2010 are about 6,609 trillion cubic feet, and world technically recoverable gas resources are roughly 16,000 trillion cubic feet, largely excluding shale gas. Thus, adding the identified shale gas resources to other gas resources increases total world technically recoverable gas resources by over 40 percent to 22,600 trillion cubic feet.

From a European point of view, there is good news:
One particularly fascinating thing is that, as it turns out, Europe does have significant energy resources apart from coal and these are liberally spread at that. The list runs from around 8 trillion cubic feet in Germany right up to France (180 trillion cubic feet) and Poland with an enormous 187 trillion cubic feet. But even for heavy gas consumers like the UK with around 20 trillion cubic feet projected, it will mean more than doubling what is currently still available from North Sea resources.

The EIA table shows recoverable resources on a mind-boggling scale around the globe. China, at a staggering 1,275 trillion cubic feet, Argentina at 774 trillion cubic feet, Mexico at 681 trillion cubic feet, South Africa at 485 trillion cubic feet, Canada at 388 trillion cubic feet. Algeria...well, you get the message. And who knows just how much shale gas or oil lies beneath the still un-assessed Middle East?

One thing is clear. Pretty soon we are going to have to stop referring to shale deposits as ‘unconventional’ as they are soon set to become highly conventional indeed. Equally, we need to understand that this EIA assessment is just an initial survey and, given the scant nature of some of the information, is a wholly conservative estimate, as the report itself makes clear. It should also be understood that the EIA’s assessment excludes potential international shale oil deposits, such as Canada’s massive Athabasca Sands and Israel’s just announced onshore developments, as well as offshore shale gas basins, coal-bed methane, tight gas and other deposits.

Above all, what the report confirms is that hundreds of years of fossil fuels still remain to be tapped. Just as significantly, much of it is in own ‘backyards’ – and away from the control of dictatorial regimes who use current reserves as geopolitical leverage.

Now we could do it the French way. That would be: ignore it, leave it in the ground and desperately cast around for alternatives to Russian gas. Or we could do it the sensible way – understanding that ‘le fracking’ and SAGD (for oil sands) processes are tried and trusted, no matter what the eco-media likes to assert – start drilling and save billions of dollars on unnecessary oil and gas imports.

Tough call, wouldn’t you say?

Read the entire article here
We have said it before, shale gas is a game changer that will end Europe´s dependence on Russian gas, provided that the European countries seize the opportunity. But the "the French way" is no solution, although Gazprom would like to see it that way.

No comments: