Minds are opening on shale gas in France

A mention that www.shalegasinfo.eu will be up and running later this week, lots more on that and the future of No Hot Air soon.

In between working on that site, and preparing for a trip to Houston this week  it’s  becoming increasingly obvious that France is going to play a big role in gaining public acceptance of shale in Europe.  I can also see that public acceptance in the US, as we saw from the discussion of shale’s PR problems for ExxonMobil last week, won’t be hurt by any positive news from France either. France is held in high regard in places like Bucks County PA, upstate New York, the Upper West Side of Manhattan etc, where the opposition to shale has been loudest. On places like West 96th Street, a few blocks from Josh Fox of Gasland’s main residence, they hold up France’s shale ban as vindicating. But first we’ve seen the UK’s green light on shale and I think it’s a mistake to think that France has banned shale gas for even the short term. 

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So much for the Halliburton loophole

One part of Gasland that invariably gets the base booing and hissing on cue, is the part where they wheel out Dick Cheney and the “Halliburton loophole”  by which the  contents of fracking fluids were not required to be revealed.  Never mind that 75 Senators including Barack Obama voted for this,  the narrative that Gasland spread worlwide is one of hundreds of secret fracking chemicals.  Back in 2004 when the bill was passed,  there could be a case made that fracking fluids were proprietary and a matter of commercial interest.  Seven years later, that case doesn’t apply.  As people move around, everyone knows what’s in the secret sauce these days and only the hard core see fracking disclosure as being more harmful to profits than useful in adding to the overall benefits of the industry.   But one part of the anti-fracking narrative is that evil hydrocarbon companies would never shed some light on fluids, especially not in the states as opposed to Federal regulations.

But now one state is the first to mandate disclosure, thus throwing down a gauntlet to the EPA to set a high standard.  Which state is that?  New York?  Vermont? Pennsylvania?  No the leading proponent is what the green lobby would think is the prime opponent:

HOUSTON — Texas has become the first state to require gas drillers to publicly disclose chemicals used to crack tight rock formations to release minerals.
The law passed through the state’s House of Representatives late Sunday. This could set the stage for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other states to make similar rules.

Prospective UK gas resources are “world class”

Judging from the experience of North American gas shales, one clear trend has been that reserve estimates have been consistently pessimistic.  Indeed any of my recent presentations have highlighted that the one mistake I’ve made over the past three years has been to be initially too doubting and suspicious of shale prospects. There are any number of NA shales, and international examples in Argentina and possibly Poland and France, where both initial estimates have been too small or completely new production provinces come out of left field, disrupting conventional wisdom even more.

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South Africa’s huge boost from shale

I continue to be completely befuddled as to how the fracking debate in a country like South Africa – suffering energy shortages, generating over 90% of power from coal and with a quarter of it’s population surviving on less than $1.25 per day appears to be dominated by a debate over whether or not they should exploit the the fifth largest shale resources in the world.

As recently revealed, the anti-shale campaign is well funded, including we assume from the only member of the Dutch Royal  Family who doesn’t own shares in Shell, or is perhaps so wealthy it doesn’t matter.  But the debate is at least turning into a debate and we hear about the other side:


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Shale oil makes the New York Times Front Page

The New York Times puts the Eagle Ford on the front page of the US edition today, something NHA mentioned first in October 2009.  For some reason, it doesn’t make it to the Global edition at all. Since most people outside the US don’t know anything about shale gas, apart from the taps catching fire, I guess shale oil will be a mystery for some time yet.

CATARINA, Tex. — Until last year, the 17-mile stretch of road between this forsaken South Texas village and the county seat of Carrizo Springs was a patchwork of derelict gasoline stations and rusting warehouses.

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Upcoming IEA report on gas

The International Energy Agency is releasing a special report on gas June 6.  Significantly, the launch event in London features Nobuo Tanaka, the Executive Director and Chief Economist Fatih Birol, i.e. the two heavy hitters of the IEA whose opinions on oil are taken very seriously. This looks good:

The future for natural gas is bright. Demand has experienced a strong post-crisis recovery, while the North American shale gas boom and expansion of LNG trade have made ample supplies available in the near-term and bolstered future gas supply prospects. With mounting concerns over energy security and global climate change, and renewed debate surrounding the future role of nuclear power, these developments merit a deeper investigation of the prospects for, and the implications of, a golden age of natural gas.

This special report in the World Energy Outlook 2011 series examines the key factors that could secure for natural gas a more prominent role in the global energy mix, and the implications for other fuels and climate change. It features a high-gas scenario, examining how natural gas supply and demand could respond to new impetus stemming from both market forces and government policies.

The EPA on shale: ” I’m not aware of any proven case”

Tip of the hat to Andy for this one from the US Senate Committe on Environment and Public Works:

Washington, D.C.-Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today welcomed a statement given by Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, in which she testified, “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water…”

There is a video, but a) I have trouble putting in videos in the new format and b) I have linked to hundreds of outlets throughout the world but I draw the line at Fox News.  I’ll try and get the C-Span version.

Anyway, imagine if you will, the headlines if Lisa Jackson had said she had even one proven case of frackng affecting water. Which out of several tens of thousands of wells shouldn’t be the end of the world, as people attempting to console Reverend Camping’s church unwittingly pointed out. 

But the head of the EPA getting up and saying in front of the US Senate that there are no proven cases of water contamination, isn’t news. No wonder ExxonMobil has to buy space.

Exxon defends fracking to their own shareholders

Things are taking an especially nutty turn when Exxon has to to defend the safety of fracking to 28% of it’s own shareholders:

The proposal for more transparency on shale gas production received 28.2 per cent of the vote at ExxonMobil’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

The measure received 41 per cent of the vote at the Chevron meeting.

The issue made it on to proxy shareholder resolutions last year, often winning an unusually high 22-42 per cent of the vote, according to Michael Passoff, senior strategist of the corporate social responsibility programme of shareholder activist As You Sow.

Mr Passoff added that environmental resolutions usually garnered investor support in single-digits. “It was an issue that resonated with investors right from the start,” Mr Passoff said. “There are a lot of red flags here for investors.”

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UK shale resources

My only quibble with the Energy and Climate Change Committee report is on something neither one of us yet know:  What are the actual UK shale resources?  As this from the FT notes:

The British Geological Survey says onshore shale gas could equal 150bn cubic metres – about 1.5 years of UK consumption. Offshore reserves could be much higher. Just one site so far – near Blackpool – is being exploited for shale gas in the UK.

Domestic shale gas could reduce dependence on imports, said the report, although the effect on energy security was “unlikely to be enormous”.

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The WWF is crying…

The ink isn’t dry on the UK shale report, but the WWF via the Guardian, is pleading foul:

But the MPs acknowledged that exploiting shale gas could be environmentally damaging and could spell severe problems for the renewables industry, which is facing a lobbying onslaught from gas industry representatives seeking to position their fuel as “green” because it produces less carbon than coal.

Continue reading The WWF is crying…