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Barry Stevens

Barry Stevens

Dr. Barry Stevens has over 25 years of proven international experience building technology-driven enterprises and bringing superior products and services to market ahead of the…

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What is Clean, Abundant, Affordable and the Best Alternative Energy Source We Have?

If you answered cold fusion, eeehhhhh! Your time's run out!   If you answered natural gas, have a cigar. Natural gas, for the simple reason that it is one of the quickest ways to achieve a future in which an oil importing nation is no longer held hostage by foreign oil and carbon and other harmful emissions are sharply curtailed.

Seems like a heretical statement coming from someone who spent the last 15 years helping to develop an installed base of renewable energy projects. With 2010 Total Energy Production of 1.2% and 0.1% of wind and solar, respectively, the impact of renewable energy is a long way off. In fact, there are signs that the industry maybe softening in the U.S.

Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. The combustion of natural gas emits significantly lower levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide than does the combustion of coal or oil. When used in efficient combined-cycle power plants, natural gas combustion can emit less than half as much CO2 as coal combustion, per unit of electricity output.

Are there "issues" with the extraction of natural gas from shale plays? Most certainly. Can the issues be managed? Again the answer is "Yes."

Problems, and there were fewer than one would think, were as much a "Drill First - Figure Out Regulations Later" attitude than and real technical issues with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing "Fracking." The issues were traced to use of unproven methods buy unqualified drillers and frackers as well as misconception and perception. The fact of the matter is there were only 42 (<0.3%) documented incidents of casing failures from improper cementing out of over 15,000 shall gas wells drilled in U.S.

Another misconception is the public outrage over benzene emissions for wells. Again the facts show that there were little of no benzene emissions in the Barnett shale. Measurements ran about 0.001% or 1/1,000 of 1% benzene, compared to 0.5% to 1% in gasoline.

Environmental concerns with shale gas production are being raised throughout the global landscape where it is technically feasible to extract the natural gas. The primary driver is hydraulic fracturing’s impact on drinking water. The fracturing slurry is a mixture of 99% water and sand in combination with a proprietary mix of 1% chemical additives. The fluid is injected underground to fracture rock containing natural gas. This can impact drinking water from contaminated aquifers and wells. The other concern is the potential for water and air contamination by fugitive leakage of natural gas during extraction and delivery. Natural gas is a potent greenhouse gas with the ability to trap heat almost 21 times more effectively than carbon dioxide.

The brouhaha over water contamination arose from an unfortunate situation in Wyoming. Many news articles about the situation failed to highlight some key clauses in the EPA's decision. First, the Agency was not definitive in blaming fracking for the water problems. Second, the EPA released the study before it had gone through the peer review process. Third, and most importantly, the Wyoming field is very different from most fracking areas. The gas-bearing rock being fractured in Wyoming was only about 1,220 feet deep and some water wells reached as far as 800 feet. By comparison, the gas-bearing rocks targeted by fracking operators in Texas and Pennsylvania are several thousand feet below any water supplies.  Unlike shale formations like the Marcellus in Pennsylvania and the Barnett in Texas, the Wyoming gas was in a sandstone reservoir and did not have a geologic barrier or "cap" atop the gas-bearing layer. With so many major geologic differences between the fracked wells near Pavillion and those in shale basins, industry experts caution against extrapolating any conclusions from the Wyoming study.

Worldwide technical recoverable shale gas reserves is estimated to be about 32,500 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) U.S.'s reserves have the potential to produce 845 Tcf including "wet gas" wells that produce liquid petroleum condensate along with natural gas. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that there are 1,279.5 Trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of technically recoverable natural gas resources in the United States.

Natural gas can change the region’s economic landscape.  Recently the IHS Global Insight reported:

Natural Gas impact on the economy   

 
"..... natural gas "shale gale" that began in the Barnett Shale is having "profound economic impacts" on the U.S. economy -- creating jobs, reducing consumer costs for natural gas and electricity and escalating federal, state and local tax revenues,"

"..... shale gas development, after contributing $76.9 billion to the nation's economic output in 2010, will add $118.2 billion in 2015 and $231.1 billion in 2035."

"..... in 2010, the shale gas industry supported more than 600,000 jobs; that number will likely grow to nearly 870,000 by 2015 and 1.6 million-plus by 2035."

"..... savings from lower natural gas prices, as well as associated lower prices for other consumer purchases, will add an average $926 in disposable income per household annually from 2012 to 2015 and more than $2,000 annually by 2035."

"..... the shale gas industry and related jobs pay higher wages -- an average $23.16 per hour -- than those in manufacturing, transportation and education."

"..... the boom in domestic gas production has held down natural gas prices and thus electric rates in Texas because gas is burned to generate much of the power."

"..... as a transportation fuel, compressed natural gas is cleaner-burning and much cheaper than gasoline," 

The primary economic consideration is the need to boost demand of natural gas. As supplies increase, unless there is a corresponding increase in demand, the price will plummet until it becomes financially sound to stop productions.

The two primary sectors that use fossil fuels are electricity generation through coal-fired power generation stations and the transportation industry through petroleum. Converting coal-fired to natural gas-fired electricity generation plant is on a relative basis a no brainer. However, the transportation sector is somewhat more problematic in terms of converting vehicles internal combustion energy from gasoline to natural gas. The cost of conversion can range from $12,000 for light-duty to over $35,000 for heavy-duty vehicles. When gasoline retail prices fall below $3.00 a gallon, it’s a difficult proposition to justify the cost to convert vehicles to run on CNG. However, over $3.25 a gallon conversion becomes a sound investment.

Natural gas can also play an essential role in the export market. An article that ran early last year in the Huffington Post points in this direction."U.S. Becomes Net Exporter Of Fuel For First Time In Nearly 20 Years". Diesel and other oil-based fuels led the increase.

So what can be said about natural gas can be summed up in one phrase: "A thousand workers can provide it, hundreds of countries can benefit from it, billions can use it, and one earth can be protected by it. 

In closing, more than any other fuel source today and for the near future, natural gas is the only fuel that can be utilized across major fossil fuel hungry sectors. As a sustainabilist would say, it supports the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Renewable fuels fail to satisfy these criteria.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author Dr. Barry Stevens, an accomplished business developer and entrepreneur in technology-driven enterprises. He is the founder of TBD America Inc., a global technology business development group. In this role, he is responsible for leading the development of emerging and mature technology driven enterprises in the shale gas, natural gas, renewable energy and sustainability industries. To learn more about TBD America, please visit: http://tbdamericainc.com/

By. Dr. Barry Stevens




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  • James Makepeace on January 16 2012 said:
    Gas is easy (and profitable for the "big boys" in the fossil fuel business)... but it still produces a lot of CO2.I'd rather see the US GOvernment do the sensible thing and complete the Laser Fusion research at Livermore. Once that work is done we can evaluate how much damage we really need to do to the environment in order to sustain this energy-hungry lifestyle for a few decades more.Sooner or later the human race will have to face the music and do something serious about the energy challenge. The voters all know that, but they still want to heat their homes, which is where the Big Boys make their nice fat profit.When fusion is harnmessed as an energy source, just watch how fast these same Big Boys swing around and fight to own a slice of it... !
  • Hydro Carbon on January 16 2012 said:
    Good luck on the fusion, its only been ten years away for the last 60 years. Gas is the next big bubble. I'm sure Barry stands to make big bucks on it. Keep in mind the people who made the most money during the gold rush were the ones who marketed it and sold the shovels. Same thing here. The numbers they quote are not proven reserves, but fantasy reserves. Barry works for an investment firm, enough said.
  • John Dzwonczyk on January 16 2012 said:
    The practical thing to do is use natural gas as CNG and LNG now, and work on your teleporter or whatever until you make a breakthrough. We have gas, it is cheap, and it pollutes less. We can use it in existing vehicles and powertrains. Not using it is a waste. Doing nothing in the hope of a holy grail technology is purblind.
  • bachcole on January 16 2012 said:
    We will let the market decide. Natural Gas will have it's day, and then LENR will blow it away, excuse the pun.
  • BarryStevens on January 16 2012 said:
    Dehydrated,Wow, take a 180, sorry no investment firm or any affiliation with one whatsoever. I had a lot of things said to me, including a death threat for a piece predicting the demise of NJ’s SREC market, but owning an investment banking firm stands at the top of all the whimsical things said. I am just an American and a pragmatic, nothing more, nothing less. If you know of an investment firm that wants to hire me, let me know at your earliest convenience.Try reading my profile on me website at http://www.tbdamericainc.com/Barry Stevens
  • Hydro Carbon on January 16 2012 said:
    Sorry, googled you and energy and got another Barry Stevens. Sorry. My bad. I still don't agree with stated reserves, safety issues, and our ability to switch from liquid to gas in the transportation sector. Our societies addiction to oil is irreplaceable. Economic growth and everything else relies on it. What we need to do is start to face the fact and transition to a much lower energy footprint before we drive off the cliff. Some famous actor said we have two choices: Hopelessness and despair, or extinction. We are headed towards the later.
  • Mike on January 17 2012 said:
    What is holding up CNG fuel stations for public consumption? Even if we had just a few in North NJ, I bet people would begin buying cars. You can buy a CNG Honda Accord now. Can this be filled out of the home at some point?
  • Lumen on January 17 2012 said:
    I'm glad to see again the CNG concept in the news.
    It's best to keep Cold Fusion suppressed as long as possible so as to let it get a more secure foothold before informing the masses. This will allow it to flow into the system without creating a panic!
  • Jerry on January 17 2012 said:
    Right .. if the Gas Industry and keep cold fusion on the back burner we can get another five years out of Congress on Natural gas, lets keep our fingers crossed that Rossi and the ecat cold fusion can be controlled and put in check, the media is with us, Fox News is a strong partner with us. All systems Go for natural gas.
  • Jerry on January 17 2012 said:
    Right .. if the Gas Industry and keep cold fusion on the back burner we can get another five years out of Congress on Natural gas, lets keep our fingers crossed that Rossi and the ecat cold fusion can be controlled and put in check, the media is with us, Fox News is a strong partner with us. All systems Go for natural gas.
  • Linda on January 17 2012 said:
    I am in favor of natural gas drilling but I feel the public needs more accurate information.
  • Rick on January 18 2012 said:
    We are at the starting point of a natural gas vehicle implementation stage. All of the major U.S. automakers are starting to offer "CNG prep packages" on thier "fleet" type vehicles. True, the cost for conversion is as stated...but as industry reaches economy of scale the price will begin to decrease. Fueling infrastructure is being developed as we speak by companies like Clean Energy, Mansfield Gas, etc. Soon, actually within the year, you will see CNG/LNG stations along major U.S. highways and in cities across the country. The major gas producers/service companies such as Chesapeke, Apache, Anadarko as well as other enterprise level fleets like ATT and Verison are converting thier fleets to CNG at thier expense. Most of these vehicles are lease vehicles so as they are retired from service they will trickle into "Mom and Pop" company service or individuals hands. The Congress needs to help jump start the process by passing the "NATGAS ACT". This is a 5 year plan that is NOT an "Everlasting-Gobstomper" for the industry. We did the same thing for the Ethenol industry and just this year were able to remove those incentives..because..They are now self sustaining!!....We have HUGE reserves of natural gas at our disposal and a hungry workforce ready and willing to help in the development of this domestic fuel. We need to keep our money and jobs here.

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