Do we really have 100 years’ worth of shale gas?

December 29, 2011 at 10:22 am
Contributed by: Chris

I have a new piece published in Slate today, examining the oft-repeated claim that we have 100 years’ worth of shale gas resources. In terms of proved reserves, we only have 11 years’ worth. So what’s the deal? Read it here:  What the Frack?

That was originally part of my recent post, The questionable economics of shale gas

I’d also point your attention to a new piece by Reuters, who did some good investigative journalism on top shale gas operator Chesapeake Energy, and accused them of conducting a stealth “land grab” operation by using a series of shell companies: Energy giant hid behind shells in “land grab”

This kind of work is vitally important, because the majority of press about shale gas still consists of wild-eyed optimism and verbatim repetition of industry propaganda. For example, this new piece in the Wall Street Journal.

There is still plenty of energy-illiterate press going around, such as the recent rash of articles that misinterpreted the US becoming a net exporter of refined products as being a net exporter of oil, when we are still the world’s top importer of oil. It’s pathetic. The data are freely and publicly available, so why are these egregious errors still being propagated in high-profile publications? I hope my recent pieces help to clear things up just a little.

Postscript: Al Gore blogged on my story January 8, 2012

Corrections: Most regrettably, I discovered two typos in the story some weeks after it was published:

1) “At the 2010 rate of American consumption—about 24 tcf per year—that would be a 95-year supply of gas, which apparently has been rounded up to 100 years.” should have been “At the 2009 rate of American consumption—about 22.8 tcf per year—that would be a 95-year supply of gas, which apparently has been rounded up to 100 years.” At the 2010 consumption rate of 24.089 tcf/yr, the 2,170,000 bcf estimate would last 90.082 years. (Therefore, one could say that one year’s increase in US gas consumption shaved five years off the claimed supply.)

2) “It offered a range of estimates, from 43 tcf at 95 percent probability, to 84 tcf at 50 percent probability, to 114 tcf at 5 percent probability.” The high end USGS estimate was 144.1 tcf, not 114.

Postscript November 5, 2012: This article is now available in a German translation, here: http://www.peak-oil.com/2012/11/what-the-frack/

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2012: Terra incognita

December 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week, I offered some 2012 predictions for oil, the stock market, and geopolitics, along with some tips on how to maintain your sanity when the world is going crazy.

Read it here: 2012: Terra incognita
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The mon(k)ey trap

December 21, 2011 at 10:43 am
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week, I explained why we can’t deal with peak energy, climate change, debt deleveraging, and our other existential crises: because we’re stuck in a monkey trap.

Read it here: The mon(k)ey trap
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The questionable economics of shale gas

December 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week, I explored some serious questions about the economics of shale gas. Is it a “game-changer,” a Ponzi scheme, or somewhere in between? Read it here: The questionable economics of shale gas (See also the companion piece I wrote for Slate.)
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Energy politics at the piano bar

December 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm
Contributed by: Chris

For my SmartPlanet column this week, I critiqued the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2011, and imagined having some drinks with IEA, Newt Gingrich, and Michele Bachmann at a piano bar.

Read it  here: Energy politics at the piano bar
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