News spreads quickly throughout the energy industry, especially when that news is good!
The “Energy Crisis” may very well be over, long before it ever had a chance to cripple life on Planet Earth, as so many energy experts were predicting as our unavoidable destiny!
Engineers working in the field of more effectively extracting and utilizing “oil shale” have actually delivered on a promise that many doubted would ever see the light of day.
This means two very significant things to our world.
(1) We will be able to utilize this “shale oil” energy source without having to totally reconstruct our current, traditional infrastructure, as this oil is converted into a form of “Natural Gas,” which much of the world is already set up to use.
(2) We now appear to be much further away from running out of energy any time soon, thankfully giving us the desperately needed additional time to continue improving on our other numerous alternative energy options.
Shale Oil is a naturally occurring, fine grained sedimentary rock, composed of significant portions of the very same rich, organic compounds that are found within crude oil, before it is processed into gasoline. Just as crude oil is created by a combination of extreme heat, pressure and time, so is the Kerogen, or organic chemical compounds found in shale oil.
The good news has always been that just like crude oil, modern technology can extract the liquid hydrocarbons from the mass and separate out, creating a lot of relatively cheap and easy energy. The bad news has always been the fact that Kerogen requires a lot more complicated and time consuming processing than crude oil, naturally increasing its cost, both financially as well as environmentally, as a substitute for crude-oil.
With world-wide estimates of well over three trillion barrels of oil shale patiently waiting for extraction from the Earth, it became a race to figure out how to effectively get to the shale and efficiently process the oil in a way that could best be utilized by an energy starved planet.
According to the numbers just released at “The World Gas Conference” held in Buenos Aires, recent advances in shale oil extraction technology have manifested from wishful dream to physical reality, much quicker than even the most positive optimists could have possibly imagined!
This will mean dramatic increases in the amount of energy that will soon begin being drawn from currently un-tapped, as well as inefficiently “milked” shale and methane beds around the entire planet.
This news should nearly immediately alter the perceived global balance of energy, where the United States will no longer be held captive and forced to squander what is left of its dwindling wealth, paying a “Kings” ransom to merely import the fuel in order to survive.
Meanwhile, Europe will feel the tight fist of Russia begin to loosen it’s stranglehold on much needed gas resources, and the worries of impending black-outs and brown-outs through the European Community will dissipate as substantial energy will now be readily available, well into the foreseeable future
According to British Petroleum’s Chief Executive, Tony Hayward, the latest calculations show that natural gas reserves around the world have risen to the point where they equate the same amount of energy derived by burning 1.2 trillion barrels of oil, which is the amount of energy needed to fuel our needs for approximately 60 years into the future.
Hayward then reminds us that with continued technological advances and shale oil deposit discoveries that are occurring regularly, that estimated oil supply buffer will continue to rise quickly!
Mr. Hayward states that "There has been a revolution in the gas fields of North America. Reserve estimates are rising sharply as technology unlocks unconventional resources."
Up until this very moment, those in the know have been somewhat “mums the word” on these facts and the public is just beginning to get word of this wonderful news. Thanks to brave and forward thinking prognosticators, who aren’t afraid to “rock the boat,” such as Nick Grealy over at "No Hot Air," the silver lining news that Britain's shale oil reserves could very well replace declining North Sea output, is just getting out and acknowledged.
Meanwhile, other experts in the field, like Rune Bjornson of Norway's “StatoilHydro” are openly announcing that “exploitable reserves are much greater than supposed just three years ago and may meet global gas needs for generations.” Bjornson continues by asserting that "The common wisdom was that unconventional gas was too difficult, too expensive and too demanding," and concludes by explaining that "This has changed. If we ever doubted that gas was the fuel of the future – in many ways there's the answer."
This “Answer” came to us by way of a new form of “three dimensional” seismic imaging that will allow us to more precisely find and effectively free up what is known in the industry as "tight gas" through a process of effectively smashing the energy rich shale rocks, called hydro-fracturing or "fracking!
Engineers in the United States aggressively leading the way, as operations located in both Pennsylvania and Texas have already been sufficient to diminish US imports of liquefied natural gas (LGN) from Trinidad and Qatar to almost nothing. This advanced technology is so powerfully productive, that its utilization has already made its effects in the energy market felt. As the increased amount of available LGN has continued to rise, the price of pipeline deliverable natural gas has already begun to drop significantly.
Meanwhile the US Energy Department is now stating that it fully expects shale oil to efficiently meet 50% of US gas demand within the next 20 years, if not sooner. The U.S. is not alone in this optimistic embracing of the latest oil shale production advances. We now have observed quickly increasing shale oil projects jumping into action throughout France and Poland, while increased exploration to pursue this end is taking place in such countries as Australia, India and China.
Latest projections coming out from the top minds over at Texas A&M University, state that the United States latest processing methods could increase global gas reserves by 900% to an impressive 16,000 TCF (trillion cubic feet).
China has extremely substantial shale oil deposits, but simply currently lacks the water resources to implement the new technology, due to the recent depletion of the North China water basin. However, there are scientists all around the world that are already fast at work, computing the most effective way to trade water for oil, an exchange that pretty much everyone is excited to participate in the profits from.
Expectedly, Russia is not exactly thrilled about these latest events and is going out of their way to use their media prowess to try to “pooh-pooh” the most recent technological advances that will loosen its control over the energy supply feeding Europe and other portions of the globe.
Recent economic forecasts already predict sever drop offs in the value and profitability of Russia’s ‘Gazprom.” Once, the powerful “Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs” that led the way to Russia's recent power resurgence, Gazprom is predicted to be heading towards tougher times and Russia's budget may very soon return to the structural deficits of frozen fund, post cold-war, financial purgatory of the 80s.
In the meantime, the rest of the planet will be making up for lost time and developing a workable model where the combination of gas and various alternative sources of energy can symbiotically work in union to create the energy balanced utopia that we once believed was just around the corner, back in the late 60s and 70s.