It really must take a lot of hard work to ignore the potential for shale gas recently. A front page story on the Davos issue of the FT Weekend magazine on "The Shale Gas Bonanza" has a sub-heading that asks "Are we about to witness a new global energy revolution?".
However, the story itself, excellent as it is, concentrates almost exclusively on the Haynesville shale, and barely mentions international potential:
Indeed, the impact is expected to extend well beyond America’s borders. Industry consultants at PFC Energy in Washington, DC, believe that developing supplies trapped in shale deposits could more than quadruple the world’s known gas reserves. “This is a transformational event,” says its chairman, Robin West. His consultancy puts global reserves of natural gas from “unconventional” sources such as shale beds at 3,250 trillion cu ft, a total based on 1997 geological estimates that he believes will rise as the techniques available to extract the gas improve. By comparison, global reserves of natural gas from “conventional” sources total 620 trillion cu ft. Not all of these shale reserves will ever be tapped, but the technology to do so is available and, for the first time, companies are putting it to use.
Not really enough for some to anticipate a global energy revolution. But this piece does mention something I've barely touched upon far various reasons.
Next: shale oil?
US energy companies may be able to use technologies they acquired in the hunt for shale gas to tap oil trapped in dense rock formations.
Oil shale is back in the theoretical stage where shale was a few years ago. That doesn't necessarily mean it will follow the gas trajectory…
Bill Albrecht, vice-president of Occidental Petroleum, the biggest US independent, says: “There is a huge resource here.” But the technique needs refining before it will win widespread adoption. “Relative to gas, it’s still an emerging technology,” he admits.
…of course it might. Among other places, North Dakota and France as new oil provinces. That will really annoy Peak Oilers.