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A Graphic View of How Shale Gas could Change the Future

By Al Fin | Sun, 06 January 2013 00:00 | 5

The real impact stems from its effect on the oil market. Shale gas offers the means to vastly increase the supply of fossil fuels for transportation, which will cut into the rising demand for oil — fuelled in part by China’s economic growth — that has dominated energy policymaking over the last decade.

...The major geopolitical impact of shale extraction technology lies less in the fact that America will be more energy self-sufficient than in the consequent displacement of world oil markets by a sharp reduction in U.S. imports. This is likely to be reinforced by the development of shale oil resources in China, Argentina, Ukraine and other places, which will put additional pressure on global oil prices.

Shale Gas Reserves around the World

Related Article: Iranian Gas and the Nabucco Pipeline Realities

The second factor is the potential to use natural gas for transportation. Some analysts suggest that this will only be a realistic prospect for fleet and long-haul road transportation. But they are overlooking the immense advantage that natural gas has as a transportation fuel in America and Europe, which have both developed a natural gas infrastructure in urban areas that takes piped natural gas into homes, offices and supermarkets. Once gas is cheap and widely available, it is possible to consider dealing with the “last mile” problem of providing home refuelling kits so consumers can fill up natural-gas powered cars in their own garages.

The incentives to develop shale oil and natural gas are very great. But so far, the United States has only experienced the first stage of low natural-gas prices and the reimportation of energy intensive industries such as chemicals and steel because of low gas prices. The next stage of the shale revolution’s impact is going to be felt as major stimulus gets under way from lower oil prices. More broadly, the shale revolution will grant the United States a greater range of options in dealing with foreign states.

For the Europeans, the shale revolution is also largely positive. A greater variety of gas supplies from liquefied natural gas originally destined for the United States has been dumped in European markets; by 2020, shale gas in the form of liquefied natural gas is likely to begin arriving in Europe in significant quantities, and there is also the prospect of some domestic shale gas becoming available. Europe will also benefit from the second stage of the shale revolution as oil prices come under pressure. _Hindu

Shale Plays Around the World
Another Global Perspective

Related Article: US Companies Poised to Launch Chinese Shale Boom

Every continent has shale oil & gas deposits. Even Russia has rich shale and tight rock petroleum -- but it will need North American technology to develop the resource. The same thing is true for China and much of the rest of the world. North America developed the technology and continues to refine it at a rapid rate.

Basic Fracking, Far Below the Water Table
Basic Fracking, Far Below the Water Table

While faux environmentalists whine about tectonic risk and the risk of polluting the water table and aquifers, the reality of the technology is leaving these green lefty-Luddites in the dust. The greatest environmental risk regarding shale oil & gas fracking is the risk of not taking advantage of the clean energy resource.

By. Al Fin

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  • Ronald Wagner on January 07 2013 said:
    Excellent article Al. Please use my resources. Don't forget that ships, locomotives, stationary engines, microturbines etc. can all use natural gas.

    Distributed energy grids are now possible due to the abundance of clean, inexpensive natural gas.

    Natural gas is the future of energy. It is replacing dirty old coal plants, and dangerous expensive nuclear plants. It will fuel cars, vans, buses, locomotives, aircraft, ships, tractors, air conditioners, engines of all kinds. It costs far less. It will help keep us out of more useless wars, where we shed our blood and money. It is used to make many products. It lowers CO2 emissions. Over 4,000 natural gas story links on my free blog. An annotated bibliography of live links, updated daily. The worldwide picture of natural gas.
    ronwagnersrants . blogspot . com
  • Eric Ellsworth on January 07 2013 said:
    There are some interesting points in this article, but the enviro-bashing is tiresome - less fighting the last war, please. Shale gas does hold a lot of promise, particularly since biofuels and especially coal have a fair number of nasty side effects of their own.

    With respect to contamination, it seems to be true that the risk of contamination of water table water via tectonic fracture is pretty low. Whether that risk is objectively insignificant remains to be seen. But that's kind of a red herring, as there are a lot of water problems AT THE SURFACE! As far as we know, fracking still requires a lot of surface water to be pumped out of some aquifer, loaded with salts, lubricants, etc, and then at least some of it has to be pumped be out (now enhanced with new salts and radioactive goodies from the rock), without any leakage from bad sealed wells and it has to be PUT SOMEWHERE! That requires a lot of people doing high quality work, so there is naturally a risk of people making mistakes, doing the wrong thing etc. Not to mention that water that's coming out of the aquifers that are already needed for other uses.

    Another point of concern with shale gas is whether increased gas production will really lead to a reduction in coal. Substitutions in economics are pretty tricky, since the availability of a new option is rarely a guarantee that everyone (or at least most people) will stop employing the old option. So additional shale gas could just mean more CO2, more (surface) water issues, and the same amount of coal use. Or it could lead to dramatically less coal use and lowered CO2 emissions. That's where we need to drive the market.
  • Forest on January 08 2013 said:
    The proponents of shale gas have always claimed that it is a lower carbon alternative to coal. However, this is only true if the coal it displaces remains in the ground and isn't just burnt elsewhere. Which is not the case.
  • Wookey on March 11 2013 said:
    Calling gas a 'clean energy resource' is a relative term. Yes it's twice as good as coal (per kWh) which is a big deal, but it's not 'clean' by any sensible measure (typically 430gCO2e/kWh). It's still taking carbon out of the ground and putting it in the atmosphere, which we have already done as much of as we can afford. Doing more of the same is incredibly short-sighted. Only CCS or actually leaving the stuff in the ground have good long-term prospects.
  • Greg MacDonald on March 17 2013 said:
    A couple of things come to mind right away. 1: Is anyone using CO2 to inject into the horizontal wells and thus do some carbon sequestration at the same time as we get gas extraction? 2: When are the world oil markets going to crash and burn? We have gone from a dearth of available resources in the 1960s and 70s to a glut now at the beginning of the 21st century. Extraordinary is putting it mildly! Oil companies are heading for a financial meltdown when the can't recover their costs of production. Any ideas when this is likely to happen?
    Greg

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