- By ezHomeHeating.com
- In Blog
- Posted Sept 5, 2013
Over the past few years, we've heard a lot of media coverage about the amazing
potential of natural gas supply from shale gas. Some of the coverage purports
that the US has over a 100-year supply of natural gas. This has certainly been
an uplifting message that Americans have long been seeking in the wake of a
prolonged war, a long drawn out recession and rising oil prices.
But as the dust settles on the hype around shale gas, a few geologists and independent
observers are starting to questions these claims. In this post, we will present some of
the points raised against these claims and let you decide for yourself.
What is Shale Gas?
Shale is a sedimentary rock formation with characteristically small pores that trap
natural gas. Geologists have long known about the relative abundance of shale rock
across the US and the presence of trapped natural gas within shale, but until
recently, it has been cost-prohibitive to extract it. Recent advancements in
horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have been the primary drivers in
making natural gas extraction economically feasible.
Environmental Impact of Shale Gas
Its been long purported that shale gas is environmentally friendlier than oil and
coal. However a study performed by a Cornell University ecologist;
Robert Howarth; warns that we should be more concerned about methane leaking into
the atmosphere during hydraulic fracturing.
Natural gas is mostly composed of methane which can be much more environmentally
damaging than CO2. Howarth estimates that as much as 8% of the methane in shale
gas leaks into the air during the lifetime of hydraulic shale gas well - up to
twice what escapes from conventional gas production.
Howarth states that "The take-home message of our study is that if you do an integration of
20 years following the development of the gas, shale gas is worse than conventional gas and is,
in fact, worse than coal and worse than oil. We are not advocating for more coal or oil, but
rather to move to a truly green, renewable future as quickly as possible. We need to look at
the true environmental consequences of shale gas."
100-year Abundant Supply of Cheap Gas
The Shale and Nautral Gas industry has tried to publicize this claim every chance they get.
Arthur Berman in his 2012 blog disagrees with this claim and states that.
"We have been told more recently that the U.S. has enough natural gas to last for
100 years. We have been presented with an improbable business model that has no barriers
to entry except access to capital, that provides a source of cheap and abundant gas, and
that somehow also allows for great profit. Despite three decades of experience with tight
sandstone and coal-bed methane production that yielded low-margin returns and less supply
than originally advertised, we are expected to believe that poorer-quality shale reservoirs
will somehow provide superior returns and make the U.S. energy independent"
Shale Truth Video series
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network recently conducted a series of interviews with Arthur
Berman. In these video interviews, he discusses some of the industry claims on the supply
and availability of shale gas and the real impacts of the shale gas industry. These
videos are educational and eye-opening - we recommend that you take the time to watch them.
Industry claims about shale gas as the clean and abundant supply of cheap energy
may be over-blown. While shale gas will certainly continue to contribute and
complement conventional natural gas production, it seems unlikely that it will
be able to fully address our future energy demands.