Will Shale Gas Rock the World?

Will the recent discovery of untapped shale gas resources be a boon for the world, or another cancer on the environment? WSJ reports, with perhaps too much optimism:

from Ruhrfisch at Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Ruhrfisch (CC)

There’s an energy revolution brewing right under our feet.

Over the past decade, a wave of drilling around the world has uncovered giant supplies of natural gas in shale rock. By some estimates, there’s 1,000 trillion cubic feet recoverable in North America alone—enough to supply the nation’s natural-gas needs for the next 45 years. Europe may have nearly 200 trillion cubic feet of its own.

We’ve always known the potential of shale; we just didn’t have the technology to get to it at a low enough cost. Now new techniques have driven down the price tag—and set the stage for shale gas to become what will be the game-changing resource of the decade.

I have been studying the energy markets for 30 years, and I am convinced that shale gas will revolutionize the industry—and change the world—in the coming decades. It will prevent the rise of any new cartels. It will alter geopolitics. And it will slow the transition to renewable energy.

To understand why, you have to consider that even before the shale discoveries, natural gas was destined to play a big role in our future. As environmental concerns have grown, nations have leaned more heavily on the fuel, which gives off just half the carbon dioxide of coal. But the rise of gas power seemed likely to doom the world’s consumers to a repeat of OPEC, with gas producers like Russia, Iran and Venezuela coming together in a cartel and dictating terms to the rest of the world.

[Read more at WSJ]

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  • emperorreagan

    I think almost everyone is being overly optimistic about non-oil energy sources at this point – whether it's shale gas, solar, or anything else. They're trying to draw investment dollars.

    The ultimate solution to our energy woes involves drastically reducing our per capita energy consumption.

    • Hadrian999

      the problem is looking for one big solution,
      we could use many available technologies to supplement oil and take the strain off in the short term
      while we look for the long term solution

      • emperorreagan

        Oh, I agree. There is no one source that is going to do everything oil does for us.

        I just think that reduction in per capita energy use will need to decrease as well. Significant decreases in overall energy consumption make a lot of the alternates much more feasible.

        • Hadrian999

          we need to really embrace energy efficient building and try to integrate as many other energy generation technologies as possible as well as upgrade the power grid, it would be nice if the government would show some leadership in this but i'm not counting on that

          • emperorreagan

            Well, the US does have sort of a half-ass voluntary standard (LEED – http://www.usgbc.org) and there is a requirement for federal buildings to maintain some minimal ranking. Unless you're pursuing the highest levels of ratings, though, it's really lenient. At this point, the standard seem to be feel good, say your building is “green” efforts rather than a prod to truly making a dent in the energy problem (and other environmental problems associated with how we build).

  • Belcat

    Some of the shale drilling happens at the water table level. Let’s hope they don’t try to tap that first, or nearby residents won’t have any drinkable water from their wells. Just Google “rosebud shale gas” and you’ll see.
    I agree with the below comments that everything should be tried (because some will work better in some places and worse in others), but shale gas is just another resource that will eventually go away, and just masks the real problem – we are using one-time use resources.

  • Belcat

    Some of the shale drilling happens at the water table level. Let's hope they don't try to tap that first, or nearby residents won't have any drinkable water from their wells. Just Google “rosebud shale gas” and you'll see.
    I agree with the below comments that everything should be tried (because some will work better in some places and worse in others), but shale gas is just another resource that will eventually go away, and just masks the real problem – we are using one-time use resources.

  • http://www.catalyst-energy.com Natural energy

    Nice bog.I like the detailed information on natural energy.
    Thanks for sharing this information.I’ll share it with others.

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