Good coverage of shale gas in Rolling Stone

March 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm
Contributed by: Chris

Jeff Goodell has a couple of good recent pieces about shale gas in Rolling Stone. The first, an entertaining close-up of Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon and his company’s business model, appears to have drawn heavily from my recent pieces on shale gas, although without direct attribution. The second, out today, speaks to President Obama’s assertion that we have 100 years of shale gas, and does quote my piece in Slate. Goodell is a fun writer to read, and these are worth a look if you are interested in the subject.

Separately, it seems the unfavorable economics of shale gas production are finally hitting the street, as Russia’s Lukoil announced yesterday that it is pulling out of $1.8 billion shale gas deal in the U.S.

Postscript March 5, 2012: I should clarify that I do not agree with all of Goodell’s representations. I also note that Chesapeake has issued a rebuttal and that Art Berman has objected to some of Goodell’s statements about him.

What Reporters Are Getting Wrong About Gas Prices

March 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm
Contributed by: Chris

I was interviewed for a recent article in Media Matters about the poor reportage on gasoline prices. Their energy reporter Jocelyn Fong had liked my article “Why energy journalism is so bad” and wanted to make sure she did her homework and got the story right. I think she did a great job. Read it here:  What Reporters Are Getting Wrong About Gas Prices

A model of oil prices

February 29, 2012 at 9:33 am
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week I offered a model to demystify oil prices. The most important factor is one you’ve probably never heard of, while the ones you hear about aren’t that important. I also showed why unconventional oil from fracked shales will reinforce, not relieve, the pain of high oil prices.  Read it here: A model of oil prices
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Energy independence, or impending oil shocks?

February 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week, I took a close look at a new report from Citigroup claiming that shale oil production had “buried” the peak oil hypothesis and that the U.S. is on its way to energy independence this decade. Instead, I found that the story of energy independence is just that: a story. The data tells us that we are losing the race against depletion, oil shortages are in our near future, and we had better plan as individuals to confront the impending oil shocks. Read it here: Energy independence, or impending oil shocks?
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What EROI tells us about ROI

February 15, 2012 at 11:29 am
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week, I explored some new academic research on the relationship between the EROI (energy return on energy invested) and ROI of fuels, and what it can tell us about price, profit, scalability, and the economy as a whole. Savvy investors should begin looking at the EROI of fuels as a guide. Read it here: What EROI tells us about ROI
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Guest post at Foreign Policy – The Oil & the Glory blog

February 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm
Contributed by: Chris

One of my favorite writers on the geopolitics of energy is Steve LeVine, a highly accomplished journalist who writes a blog called The Oil and the Glory for Foreign Policy (see his bio here.) He liked my recent work on shale gas and offered me a guest post on his blog, which he edited. It’s a short, summary piece which he published today, so head over there and check it out if you’re so inclined: Is there really so much shale gas in the ground?

Everything you know about shale gas is wrong

February 8, 2012 at 10:53 am
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week, I reviewed new data from petroleum geologist Arthur Berman showing that total U.S. gas production has plateaued for the past two years, in sharp contrast to the data offered by EIA. Production is actually declining in major shale gas plays because it has become unprofitable, and the outlook for future production is becoming more dubious. According to Berman, the shale gas gold rush is over. Read it here: Everything you know about shale gas is wrong
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The politics of peak oil

February 1, 2012 at 10:09 am
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week I reviewed a new article on peak oil published in the journal Nature by James Murray and David King, along with articles about it that followed, and tried to set the record straight about what “peak oil” means and why some in the press still get it wrong. Read it here: The politics of peak oil
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The Siren song of LNG exports

January 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week, I compared the new expected demands for US natural gas to the data on supply, and concluded that exporting LNG could be a grave policy error. Read it here: The Siren song of LNG exports
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The revolution will be bottom-up

January 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week, I looked at various ways that ordinary people are finding ways to reduce their energy consumption, relocalize food production, and create more sustainable communities in the absence of effective top-down leadership.  Read it here: The revolution will be bottom-up
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Interview with Financial Sense January 13, 2012

January 18, 2012 at 11:34 am
Contributed by: Chris

I appeared on the Financial Sense with Jim Puplava program last Friday, in a segment they titled “Political Stand-off in US Energy Policy.” We discussed energy security, the vulnerability of island nations to liquid fuel supply, the Keystone XL pipeline, the Left-Right stalemate over energy policy, the failure of our leadership to grapple with energy and transportation transitions, the “narrow ledge” of oil prices, and how oil has effectively replaced the Fed as the primary moderator of the economy.

You can download the show (21 mins) here: RealPlayer | WinAmp | Windows Media | MP3

See also: 

Energy politics at the piano bar

Reframing the transportation debate

The narrow ledge of oil prices

Have we reached an inflection point in economics history?

Regulation and the decline of coal power

January 11, 2012 at 11:54 am
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week I offered a deep dive into the data on coal-fired power, and found a sector that’s well into decline, but not just because of EPA clean air regulations. Read it here: Regulation and the decline of coal power
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Three deformations of the apocalypse

January 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week, I took up a reader’s suggestion and offered three different outlooks on the next five years: the good, the bad, and the likely. Read it here:

Three deformations of the apocalypse
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New interview with Dr. Colin Campbell

January 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm
Contributed by: Chris

There is a terrific new half-hour interview with Dr. Colin Campbell on a West Cork, Ireland website, which anyone interested in peak oil, the economy, transition, and the future will want to watch. Dr. Campbell, as longtime readers of this blog know, was my first source of knowledge about peak oil, and I read his wonderful newsletter religiously. Campbell and  Jean Laherrère were among the first serious analysts to expand upon the work of M. King Hubbert in the mid-1990s, and along with several others, founded the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) and gave birth to the modern study of peak oil (use the search function on this site to explore all of those names and newsletters further). Having a pint with Dr. Campbell still ranks right up top on my “bucket list.” Here’s the interview:

In conversation with Dr. Colin Campbell, Ballydehob, West Cork, Ireland

Campbell was also featured on the ‘Eco Eye’ program on Irish Television last night. If you’re in the UK you can probably see it, but sadly, they don’t allow it to be viewed from here in the US. Here is the link: http://www.rte.ie/player/#!v=1129353

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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Why energy journalism is so bad

November 30, 2011 at 12:25 pm
Contributed by: Chris

For SmartPlanet this week, I tried to explain why most energy journalism is so bad, and give readers a few tips on how to read it critically.

Read it here: Why energy journalism is so bad

Postscript: A fine example popped up today, shortly after my article went live. Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic and a very experienced science journalist who understands energy data and writes about it accurately, published an explainer about a recent Wall Street Journal article claiming “the U.S. is exporting more fuel than it imports” and that we’re now a “net exporter of petroleum products.”  No doubt many readers and journalists, unschooled in the finer shades of meaning of words like “fuel” and “petroleum products” took it to mean that we are now a net petroleum exporter, when in fact we’re still a net importer of oil by margin of over 2 to 1. We’re just exporting more refined products (mainly diesel) than we import (mainly gasoline). Which is a sort-of interesting story about refining capacity, as Alexis correctly identified, but has nothing to do with growing energy independence, as many people interpreted it to mean. Confusion still reigns…

P.P.S.: I really should have given Matthew Yglesias credit for the debunking of that oil imports story in Slate, which Alexis reblogged.

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