Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The gamechanging shale gas revolution

Matt Ridley´s article about the shale gas revolution in the Spectator should be read by all decisionmakers - particularly in Europe:

Jesse Ausubel is a soft-spoken academic ecologist at Rockefeller University in New York, not given to hyperbole. So when I asked him about the future of gas, I was surprised by the strength of his reply. ‘It’s unstoppable,’ he says simply. Gas, he says, will be the world’s dominant fuel for most of the next century. Coal and renewables will have to give way, while oil is used mainly for transport. Even nuclear may have to wait in the wings.
And he is not even talking mainly about shale gas. He reckons a still bigger story is waiting to be told about offshore gas from the so-called cold seeps around the continental margins. Israel has made a huge find and is planning a pipeline to Greece, to the irritation of the Turks. The Brazilians are striking rich. The Gulf of Guinea is hot. Even our own Rockall Bank looks promising. Ausubel thinks that much of this gas is not even ‘fossil’ fuel, but ancient methane from the universe that was trapped deep in the earth’s rocks — like the methane that forms lakes on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.
The best thing about cheap gas is who it annoys. The Russians and the Iranians hate it because they thought they were going to corner the gas market in the coming decades. The greens hate it because it destroys their argument that fossil fuels are going to get more and more costly until even wind and solar power are competitive. The nuclear industry ditto. The coal industry will be a big loser (incidentally, as somebody who gets some income from coal, I declare that writing this article is against my vested ­interest).
Little wonder a furious attempt to blacken shale gas’s reputation is under way, driven by an unlikely alliance of big green, big coal, big nuclear and big gas providers. The environmental objections to shale gas are almost comically fabricated or exaggerated. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses 99.86 per cent water and sand, the rest being a dilute solution of a few chemicals of the kind you find beneath your kitchen sink.
State regulators in Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming have all asserted in writing that there have been no verified or documented cases of groundwater contamination as a result of hydraulic fracking. Those flaming taps in the film Gasland were literally nothing to do with shale gas drilling and the film-maker knew it before he wrote the script. The claim that gas production generates more greenhouse gases than coal is based on mistaken assumptions about gas leakage rates and cherry-picked time horizons for computing greenhouse impact.

Read the entire article here

What Matt Ridley says about the Russians (and the Iranians) is particularly appealing. In reality - as we have pointed out in previous posts - the European shale gas revolution will lead to the end of  (Putin´s) thug rule in Russia. The end of the Putin regime will thereafter open the way to a genuine, mutually beneficial co-operation between Russia and the EU - and the rest of the world.

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