Shale Gas – “Whishful Thinking”

Posted on December 22, 2014

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UT Austin fracking

At the beginning of December, Nature published an article by Mason Inman with the title ”Natural gas: The fracking fallacy”. The article was summarised with the words, “The United States is banking on decades of abundant natural gas to power its economic resurgence. That may be wishful thinking”. Inman summarises all the hopes that cheap natural gas from fracking will be the motor in the future US economy. What has now stirred the pot further is a statement made by Ted Patzek in an interview about ongoing research at the University of Texas in Austin. He says that the results they are obtaining are bad news for the USA, “we’re setting ourselves up for a major fiasco”.

UT Austin fracking

The study they present is of “the big four plays” and the future scenarios presented differ markedly from what the governmental organisation, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) sees.

This picture of decline in US natural gas production has been discussed within ASPO for a number of years but now that Nature has taken up the discussion the issue it is being taken more seriously.

The EIA has now replied with a letter to Nature. I would like to cite the following from that letter, “it might also be appropriate for the article to inform that Patzek is a leading figure in the peak oil community, which emphasizes concerns related to limitations on the availability of hydrocarbon resources. Patzek’s personal website (gaia.pge.utexas.edu) notes that he currently serves as President of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil.” That should have been “ASPO USA”, since yours truly is the president of ASPO International.

Now it is important that the existing data on production of natural gas is analysed and presented in scientific articles. We at Global Energy Systems at Uppsala University will contribute with some pieces of the future puzzle of shale gas and shale oil production.

(Swedish)

Nature publicerade i början av december en artikel av Mason Inman med rubriken ”Natural gas: The fracking fallacy”. Man sammanfattar artikeln med orden ”The United States is banking on decades of abundant natural gas to power its economic resurgence. That may be wishful thinking”. Han sammanfattar alla de förhoppningar som finns om att billig naturgas från fracking i USA skall vara motorn i den framtida amerikanska ekonomin. Det som nu rört om i grytan är ett uttalande från Tad Patzek som i en intervju släppt information om pågående forskning vid University of Texas at Austin. Han säger att de esultat som man ser är dåliga nyheter för USA, “we’re setting ourselves up for a major fiasco”.

UT Austin fracking
Den studie som man presenterar gäller ”the big four plays” och deras framtidsscenarier skiljer sig markant från vad det statliga energiorganet EIA förutspår.

Denna bild av nedgång i den amerikanska naturgasproduktionen har vi inom ASPO diskuterat under flera år men det än nu först då Nature tar upp diskussionen som problemet diskuteras på allvar.

Energy Information Administration har nu svarat med ett brev till Nature. Jag vill citera följande från brevet från EIA: ”it might also be appropriate for the article to inform that Patzek is a leading fugure in the peak oil community, which emphasizes concerns related to limitations on the availability of hydrocarbon resources. Patzek’s personal website (gaia.pge.utexas.edu) notes that he currently serves as President of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil.” Det skulle ha varit ASPO USA, då undertecknad är president för ASPO International.

Nu är det viktigt att den data som finns för produktion av naturgas analyseras och presenteras i vetenskapliga artiklar. Vi vid Globala energisystem vid Uppsala universitet kommer att bidra med några bitar i det som är framtidens pussel vad det gäller skiffergas och skifferolja.

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