Marcellus Shale Book Review: “The End of Country”

If “The End of Country” by Seamus McGraw had not come highly recommended by Terry Engelder of Penn State,  I may well have missed it.

Terry, for those who don’t know him is the man behind the Monstrous Marcellus gas shale of Pennsylvania and is up there in the Shale Hall of Fame with George Mitchell.  Terry is open to everyone and that has included No Hot Air for a couple of years now. He is also the subject of one of the chapters of The End of Country.

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LNG Shipping

Over at  we’re plotting to add much more content on natural gas vehicles to highlight the potential for low cost, domestic and clean gas power to be shared in newer markets.  Similarly,  an entirely new market  is developing in LNG powered shipping. Technology is not the problem, what we need to overcome are perceptions:

Lester said that it was “certainly something our members are interested in,” and he noted that Norway was working hard to grow LNG as a ship fuel. But he said that currently shipowners had questions about switching from traditional oil bunker fuels to gas.

He said people were used to oil markets, but were not so certain about the gas market, and would need some “certainty” about future gas prices to invest in a gas-fueled ship that could last 30-40 years.

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Happy Tenth Birthday Barnett Shale

Lots of European “Energy Experts” totally missed the emergence of shale gas and have spent the last year or so dredging up outdated facts about US shale and making projections on how European shale gas will turn out. Worth noting at the tenth anniversary of Devon’s take over of Mitchell Energy which kicked off the shale boom is to compare yesterday and today.

Ten years ago today, Devon Energy made a multibillion-dollar bet on the Barnett Shale.

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Marcellus gas carbon beats coal: The flip side of the Howarth Report

The Howarth Report, from back in April made the counter-intuitive allegation that due to the methane released in shale drilling and transportation, the actual environmental impact of gas was worse than coal. Counter-intuitive is perhaps too kind, and many people immediately took him down.

Today a new report from Carnegie Mellon University begs to disagree, this from Environmental Research Web

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Pro Publica interview with the NY DEC

A nice sane conversation about shale between Pro Publica, who are right about many things but wrong on shale, and the the NY State Commissioner for Environmental Conservation. He shows how to do this. Be polite and keep on  message:

There is no evidence that we found that fracking fluids can migrate through that … distance and those zones. That is not to say that there aren’t shallow migration problems. We just don’t see any risk from the deep horizontal well that is very far underground and migration up to the lowest level of fresh water.

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What’s in your water pre-fracking? Don’t ask

Could the entire issue of water contamination be the brightest of red herrings for the vast majority of us in Europe?

Firstly, let’s consider that not even the most alarmist of US anti-frackers have even insinuated that water contamination reaches the public water supply, i.e, the flaming faucets of the USA all  come from private well water. But in the UK, over 99% of water is from public water supply. That may be less in other parts of Europe, especially in rural areas of Southern France where we’ve seen strong opposition to gas development. But consider that the UK does have very large rural areas too, yet has almost ubiquitous public water supply.

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EPA on shale

The 90 days are up for the EPA panel on shale to report and to no great surprise, they don’t see the genie going back in the bottle anytime soon. This from the FT is one of the better ones given that the report isn’t out until later Thursday:

Shale gas production in the US is threatened by public opposition that will grow unless the industry’s environmental impacts are controlled “as soon as possible”, an advisory committee appointed by the government has warned.
The seven-member panel was asked by Steven Chu, the energy secretary, to make recommendations for improving the safety and environmental performance of shale gas production. In its first report, published on Thursday, it proposed new requirements for environmental monitoring, disclosure and encouraging best practice, but did not call for any changes to the regulatory framework.

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Further unintended social consequences of shale

Tell people the impact of shale on carbon, clean air, low energy prices and it sometimes seem they yawn and start talking earthquakes and flaming faucets.  I recently posted on the completely unexpected impact of a revitalised US steel industry.

Today more on another ex-basket case: more job creation in  the US chemical industry

Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) spent a decade moving chemical production to the Middle East and Asia. Now it’s leading the biggest expansion ever seen back home in the U.S. as shale gas revives the industry’s economics.

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Oz Shale Gas as next big thing?

For various reasons,  Australian shale gas is shaping up as the flavour of at least this month:

“The next shale gas opportunity will be Australia,” Andrew Moorfield, managing director and global head of oil and gas at Lloyds, said in a phone interview from Sydney. “We believe it’s the next big play and that the shale gas story in Australia is going to happen faster than people expect.”

The one thing I consistently point out that we can learn from the US is how expectations were too cautious. Why shouldn’t “the shale gas story in Australia.. happen faster than people expect”?Australia has experienced drillers and an oil and gas industry unconstrained by nosy neighbours where they exist at all. They also have the rocks and as usual, and as will happen in Europe as well despite all the whingers at first, the story repeats like a broken record:

SHARES in Beach Energy are 8 per cent higher in response to a strong resource estimate for its Holdfast-1 and Encounter-1 shale gas wells in SA’s Cooper Basin.

“This resource booking equates to in excess of 330 million barrels of oil equivalent, or approximately five times Beach’s 30 June 2010 reserves figure,” Beach said in a statement.

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