A hundred years of natural gas?

by Solarevolution January 25, 2012 02:49

The President of the United States has been duped. Last night he told the nation that the USA now has 100 years of natural gas reserves, thanks to new technology.  

No doubt his rhetoric was based on recent enthusiastic reports claiming that indeed the US has 100 years of natural gas. But did anyone in the White House notice who wrote those reports? Is it possible the authors hold investments in natural gas? What do they have to say about the consistently low yields of new natural gas wells?  Where does objectivity come into play? If it's true, why then is the USA still importing natural gas from Canada?

President Obama made 100 years sound like a long time. If he's right, what will America's grandchildren do 101 years from now if it's all used up by then?

Is the USA a hundred year flash-in-the-pan natural-gas-powered civilization? If not, it's time to panic! The USA needs to find an alternative to burning up all its natural gas in a couple more generations. 








If it's not true and there's less natural gas than advertised, then Americans must be even more conservative and really panic!

Either way, whether the nation may run out of gas in 10 years or 100 years, it's time to slam on the brakes and find viable alternatives to natural gas now, and not keep kicking the can down the road.

Post-Peak-Oil Riots in England

by Solarevolution August 14, 2011 14:52
England riots: Reaction to another night of disorder

10 August 2011 Last updated at 10:15 ET

...He added: "This has been senseless violence and senseless criminality of a scale I have never experienced in my career before.

Police calm London, but riots flare across UK

LONDON (AP) - Britain will not allow a culture of fear to take over the streets, Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Wednesday, saying police have drawn up contingency plans to use water cannons if necessary.

"We will do whatever is necessary to restore law and order onto our streets," Cameron said in a somber televised statement. "Nothing is off the table."

... "We want to make it absolutely clear - they have nothing to protest against,"...

Britain's riots began Saturday when an initially peaceful protest over a police shooting in London's Tottenham neighborhood turned violent. That clash has morphed into a general lawlessness in London and several other cities that police have struggled to halt.

More deaths in English riots

Three men said to have been protecting their local community have reportedly been run over and killed in Birmingham as riots continue throughout England.

British Gas voted 'worst energy supplier'

British Gas has been voted the UK's worst energy supplier, according to a survey by price comparison website uSwitch.Customer satisfaction remained low for the company despite cutting prices twice this year and taking a total of £207 off its average energy bill.



The Coming UK Energy Meltdown

Social media plays huge role amidst madness of UK riots

The reasons behind how and why these riots are happening is the centre of huge debate, one we’re not going to even attempt to join right now. What we are interested in talking about is the part technology has had to play in it all.

Although the service hasn’t been shut down, it has been revealed that the company is providing information to police which has predictably sparked all sorts of controversy.

Understandably there’s been a lot of frustration and anger vented at the government and police force due to their lack of action this week. The opinion that the internet has been much more effective then any effort from the ‘powers at be’ is one felt by many, this tweet (user unknown) summed up the mood well we thought:

"if the Big Society exists in things like #riotcleanup, remember that Cameron didn't give us it, the internet did".

Twitter refuses to close accounts of rioters to protect their 'freedom of expression'
By Chris Greenwood and Tim Shipman
Last updated at 2:27 PM on 10th August 2011

Twitter has refused to close the accounts of London rioters who used the service to spread unrest and insisted that Tweets must 'continue to flow'.

The US-based company said that 'freedom of expression' was essential and that information would be 'kept flowing'.

Social networks have faced criticism for allowing rioters and looters to incite violence and public disorder across the country since riots began last Saturday in Tottenham.

Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger were used by rioters and police have signaled that they will trawl people's accounts to find offenders.


Fracking the Future

by Solarevolution June 28, 2011 04:14

Based on a series of articles in the New York Times, the headlines and blogs this week are asking, "Is Shale Gas A Ponzi Scheme?"

The author questions the long-term reality of shale gas production and especially the financial underpinnings. Critics charge that the articles were poorly written or that the author has an agenda. Both sides are dancing around, talking about prices and debating the facts about reserves. Activists are rightfully worried about the environmental impacts of the new method of "fracking" (fracturing) shale formations to extract natural gas.

But neither side is asking the fundamental question:

What are we going to do when we run out of tricks to extract more fossil fuels?!

We are fracking our future.

Is there anyone out there who cares about our children?

Someone out there cares about being maligned by the press: Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy -- a company which was taken to task in the New York Times article. He offered these assurances to his employees and encouraged them to forward his message to the world:

In summary, you work for a great company and a great industry that is changing our country (and someday our world), much for the better. ... Again, thank you for all your hard work in building our company and in delivering to all Americans a brighter future through more affordable energy, more American energy, more clean energy and more job and wealth creation. ... we will now re-double our efforts to educate as many people as possible so that they may know the truth from us rather than distortions and dishonesty from others.
We hope that every Chesapeake employee can be part of our public education outreach.  ... You can do this by talking to your families, friends and others ... about the kind of company you work for and the integrity of what we do every day for our shareholders, our communities, our states, our nation, our economy and our environment. ..

Everyone, in other words, except the unborn. At one point, burning fossil fuels was arguably a rational thing to do. But we've passed the point of diminishing returns. Aubrey McCLendon thinks that burning our furniture to keep warm over the winter is wealth creation. He has company. I saw this in a discussion group:

"I disagree that we are foisting any challenges on future generations ....
A couple paragraphs later the same author wrote...
"I do not envision any ... disruptions for at least a century. Perhaps even two or three. By then, I think we can trust our great-grandchildren to have solved these problems.

I wouldn't know how to make this up. He didn't even see the irony: "Trusting" our great-grandchildren to meet their needs without the benefit of oil [plastics...], natural gas [fertilizer, glass...] or coal [steel, cement...].No, kids, that's right. We burned it all up! Just google "solve these problems" and you will find everything you need to rebuild the depleted world we left for you.

Our society's challenges extend beyond finding cheap and abundant sources of natural gas to make fertilizer and keep the lights on. The critical shift we need is to build awareness, to invest in our children's future by finding a pathway to energy self-reliance, not by extracting more of a finite resource.

It can be called intergenerational equity. Big words, simple Boy Scout concept: Leave the campground better than you found it. (Don't burn the picnic tables!)

Hubbert Rectangles

by Solarevolution June 18, 2011 13:01
Herman Daly defined sustainability as "equity extended into the future."
Inspired, I created a spreadsheet called, "Adults learning to share the future with their children."

Still not knowing quite where to start, I had to think it through. In Peak Oil circles we talk a lot about Hubbert curves. But in the wider world out there, more often than not we find people making reference to Hubbert rectangles: "We have enough [oil/gas/coal/uranium] to last for X years."

In other words, we carry on blithely -- Business as Usual ("BAU") -- and then plop! we're down to ZERO, just like that!

Plus, rectangles are much easier to model than curves. So off I went ... and created 3 scenarios. One, the rectangle: we use it all up at today's rate and then it's smack dab zero. Second (unrealistic) what if we cut back immediately and spread it out evenly over a long period of time -- 1000 years, or whatever you say? Third, create a policy at some deliberate enlightened decline rate and move off fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

Here's one variation of these 3 scenarios -- using "25 years [of oil/gas/coal] left." Our options are:
#1) be done with it quickly -- the black rectangle
#2) drop supply at 10% per year (orange). Clearly some people aren't going to be happy about this.
#3) for reference, we drop immediately to a 1000 year rate. (At least this is less un-sustainable.) 

You can find the spreadsheet here if you would like to play with it.

If you're wondering how big a rectangle to draw, you might want to try any of these values I obtained by googling "Years of [oil/gas/coal] left" (precise wording using quotes):
  • Oil: <50, 40, 49
  • Gas: 53, 20, 8, 10, 60, 4.
  • Coal: 200, 141, 300, 250, 500, 100, 400, 10
These numbers came up just from the first page of links, things like: "there is about 20 years of natural gas left in the world." Some of them were national, some were global figures.

Marcellus Shale

by Ron Swenson July 10, 2009 18:23
I heard that Marcellus Shale is a vast source of natural gas. I decided to check out this rumor.

The first clue of its vastness was the recent KKR investment of $350 M. If KKR thinks it's good, it must be good.

Of course the article contains the line I would expect ....

    "...a rock formation that ... is said to have vast amounts of natural gas..."

... It's even phrased as a rumor("is said to have...") and it contains a good example of something I wrote in 2000:

"Acapulco effect": To this day, the impact of a large discovery on the private lives of those involved is such a compelling story for the media that the anecdote prevails over meaningful statistics. (Careful accounting is never a glamorous story.) A discovery of 100 million barrels may buy someone a ticket to a life of leisure in Acapulco but it covers less than 2 days of global consumption.

Hot on the trail, I continued digging into the vastness of Marcellus. But first I discovered some of the nasties:

NEW YORK, NY July 22, 2008 —The Marcellus Shale is what industry people call an unconventional play. It’s loaded with natural gas, from Eastern Ohio to the Catskill Mountains. But the gas is very hard to extract. It’s packed tight 7,000 feet deep.

... But WNYC has learned... that New York state regulators have been actively promoting the safety of a practice that has caused environmental damage elsewhere. And they may not be ready to handle the regulatory complexities. ...

...Drill rigs have brought a lot of wealth, but at the same time they’ve dredged up a host of environmental problems – contaminating water supplies and drying up aquifers.

    The culprit is a practice called hydraulic fracturing. It’s never been done much in New York. But it’s the only way to get gas out of the Marcellus Shale. Basically the driller blasts the bottom of the well shaft with water, sand, and chemicals, under very high pressure in order to free up the gas. ...

Heading on to the subject of vastness, I found this study by Navigant Consulting ...

 North American Natural Gas Supply Assessment
 Prepared for: American Clean Skies Foundation, July 4, 2008.    
 which lists Marcellus quantity ...

    U.S. Gas Shales » Major Play Highlight » Marcellus
    NCI’s estimate of mean technically recoverable gas is 34.2 Tcf.

Right now the USA is running at 23 TCF/year (quite a bit of which comes from Canada, mostly Alberta).

Let's see: 34.2/23 = 1.5 years supply at today's rate.

Sounds more like an insurance policy against Canadian "independence."

If I go one step further and extrapolate that some of Marcellus gas will be a substitute for oil, I must consider the energy content of this vast supply in comparison to oil.

USA annual gas consumption = 23 Quads   

USA annual oil consumption (2008) = 41 Quads

Total Marcellus = 34 Quads

Hmm... I don't think that will take us very far.

You can find estimates of "gas in place" for Marcellus that will far exceed the 34.2 TCF, but I don't find such explanations very comforting. I'm reminded that, as Buzz Ivanhoe told me once, people talk about "resources" when it's someone else's money and "reserves" when it's their own money.


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