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Monday, October 21, 2013

Fracking news courtesy of RJ Sigmund

Scientists: U.S. Climate Credibility Getting Fracked - As fracking catapults the United States to the top of the list of the world’s largest crude oil and natural gas producers, climate scientists worry that the nation's booming fossil fuels production is growing too quickly with too little concern about its impact on climate change, possibly endangering America’s efforts to curb global greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. is likely to become the world’s top producer of crude oil and natural gas by the end of 2013, producing more hydrocarbons than either Russia or Saudi Arabia, the Energy Information Administration recently announced. The U.S. is also the world’s chief crude oil consumer, burning 18.6 million barrels of crude and other liquid fossil fuels per day in September and producing 10.9 million barrels per day. China, the world’s chief oil importer, used 10.9 million barrels and produced 4.6 million barrels, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Climate scientists say America’s oil and gas boom is having unintended consequences, not just for the climate or the local environment in energy producing regions, but for America's global role in tackling climate change.“As we produce more, we burn more, and we send more CO2 per person into the atmosphere than almost any other country,” said Susan Brantley, geosciences professor and director of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Pennsylvania State University. “We are blanketing our world with greenhouse gas, warming the planet.”

Major Study Projects No Long-Term Climate Benefit From Shale Gas Revolution - More abundant, cheaper shale gas (dark blue) has little impact on annual growth in U.S. CO2 emissions through 2050 compared to low shale gas case (light blue). This is true for multiple energy-economy models. Deep cuts in CO2 require a rising carbon price (green). Most claims that shale gas will significantly reduce US carbon emissions in the future are based on little more than hand-waving and wishful thinking. That’s because those claims assume natural gas is replacing coal only, rather than replacing some combination of coal, renewables, nuclear power, and energy efficiency — which is obviously what will happen in the real world. To figure out what the impact of shale gas is actually going to be, you need an energy-economy model. And since the output of one model depends crucially on the specific assumptions it makes, the best approach would be to look at results of several models. And that is precisely what Stanford’s Energy Modeling Forum does in its new study, “Changing the Game? Emissions and Market Implications of New Natural Gas Supplies Report.”They “formed a working group of about 50 experts and advisors from companies, government agencies and universities” to study the impact of the North American shale gas revolution: Modeling teams from 14 different organizations participated in the study. All models integrated information on energy supply and demand to provide prices that reached market balances for each individual fuel. The models used different approaches to determine these prices.The top figure shows result of the models that extend to 2050 (though the results are not substantially different if the modeling stops at 2035). Note that for most models, CO2 emissions grow in both shale cases. The study points out that “Emission growth rates for the reference case are not shown because they track closely those for the two-shale cases.”

Energy Industry's Odd Couple: Lee Raymond and Aubrey McClendon - It may be the U.S. energy industry's oddest couple: Lee Raymond, who was famously tightfisted as chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp., now has a seat at the table in a venture headed by Aubrey McClendon, whose aggressive spending hastened his exit as chairman at Chesapeake Energy Corp. Mr. Raymond has emerged as a director alongside Mr. McClendon in American Energy Ohio Holdings LLC, a closely held company that has raised $1.35 billion for Mr. McClendon's new firm, American Energy Partners LP, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday triggered by the fundraising. The extent of Mr. Raymond's participation isn't clear; he declined to comment, as did American Energy. But his reputation for tough governance and devotion to return on capital could check Mr. McClendon's free-spending ways and tolerance for risk that at times rankled Chesapeake shareholders and eventually led to his ouster. Experts said it could also lend credibility to the new venture, which is wildcatting in Ohio's Utica Shale.

North Dakota Landowners Sue Fossil Fuel Companies Over Wasted Natural Gas - Nearly 30% of natural gas drilled in North Dakota is intentionally burned off, or flared, resulting in an approximately $1 billion loss, and releasing greenhouse gases equivalent to nearly one million new cars on the road. Now, some North Dakota landowners are fighting back. Mineral owners from multiple states are suing ten oil and gas companies for millions of dollars in lost royalties for flared natural gas. They claim companies are burning off more gas than is allowed by the North Dakota Industrial Commission, disposing of valuable resources mineral owners should be getting paid for.The cases filed Wednesdaysought class-action certification, and an amount in damages to be determined by trial, based on future flaring and flaring that occurred in for the six years prior. Since oil is 30 times more valuable than natural gas, companies are rushing to pull it out of the ground fast, while prices are high. Building the infrastructure to capture the natural gas that’s part of oil drilling would take time and money, and companies aren’t willing to wait or pay. Baumstark Braaten Law Partners, one law firm involved, said in a news release that the lawsuits are an attempt to create a “compelling economic incentive for producers to reduce and eliminate the wasteful practice of flaring.” Derrick Braaten, of that firm, said the state could make a case for owed taxes against the companies as well.

Police Bring Snipers, Fire Hoses, And Tear Gas To First Nation Fracking Protest - Peaceful protests by First Nations members over a planned shale gas project in Rexton, New Brunswick exploded into violence and led to over 40 arrests on Thursday after Royal Canadian Mounted Police tried to break up a roadblock.  All summer, members of the Elsipogtog and Mi’kmaq First Nations tribes have been protesting plans by oil company SWN Resources Canada to perform seismic testing of land the tribe considers its traditional hunting ground. This testing could lead to a shale fracking operation in the area, and many are concerned about what that would mean for drinking water.  “We don’t want shale gas here,” former chief Susan Levi-Peters told the Globe and Mail. “We have been asking for consultations for three years now and nothing has happened. Instead they just put our people in jail.”

Is Canadian Shale Gas Worth $35 Billion?: Excitement from energy investors over northern shale comes after Malaysian petro-major Petronas last week announced a massive investment here--$35 billion to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in the province of British Columbia. The deal is so big, it represents the largest foreign direct investment in Canada’s history. But the promise of natural gas riches here appears to justify the spend. Gas wells drilled into shale plays like the Notikewin, Montney and Horn River in northeastern British Columbia have yielded massive discoveries—some testing at towering rates up to 24.5 million cubic feet per day, along with valuable natural gas liquids. Tests like that are as good as any results coming out of even the hottest U.S. shale plays, such as the Marcellus. It’s these rosy results that enticed Petronas to pay $6 billion for British Columbia-focused gas producer Progress Energy Resources in late 2012. Petronas is now making these gas fields the backbone for supply to its massive LNG development—which will ship gas across the Pacific to high-value markets in Asia and possibly beyond.

Europe Doomed without Fracking? Not So Fast - At a Council on Foreign Relations shindig in New York on Monday the hot topic was the European Union and its lesser-of-two evils energy choice: Russia or fracking; but this paints a black and white picture that leaves out other fossil fuel alternatives coming on line.  Eni—Italy’s largest oil company—took to the podium with the message that only fracking or increasing Russian imports can provide sustainable energy costs for Europe.  At the same time, both Eni and Shell are skeptical that fracking could take off in Europe, in part because there is too much opposition to the process, and because the geology isn’t as friendly, equipment lacking and landownership rights more complex. Despite their skepticism, they say that it’s either fracking or Russia—meaning, essentially, that they are dooming Europe to a life under Russian energy tutelage. Let us offer you another theory here, though, one that sees Russia gradually losing its hegemony over the European gas market. This theory is largely about Turkey, whose ambitions to become the key energy hub bridging Europe and the Middle East will be realized sooner rather than later. It also pits Europe in the middle of a game to control its gas market between Iran and Qatar, and this was largely what the conflict in Syria started off about—the race to the European market.

Chevron Convoy Turned Away by Romanian Villagers Opposed To Fracking -  On Monday, nearly 400 protesters in northeastern Romania called on Chevron to “go home” as they blocked the U.S. energy giant’s convoy from reaching a field where test drilling for natural gas was scheduled to begin.  According to the AFP, the protesters from the impoverished village of Pungesti, near the Romania-Moldova border, included many women and children, some of whom arrived in horse-drawn carts. Chevron obtained permits to drill in three villages in this remote rural area back in July, after also getting a green light to explore for shale gas on Romania’s Black Sea coast back in May.  The Romanian government’s decision to open the country to fracking has sparked protests across the country. Demonstrators are calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, whose center-left coalition, once opposed to fracking, pre-election, has since changed course. Concerns over groundwater contamination, a problem which has plagued natural gas developers in the U.S., is at the heart of objecting Romanians’ protests. Romania’s southern neighbor, Bulgaria, has already outlawed the technique and has seen protests of its own against Romania’s stance, as several natural gas concessions in Romania lie along the Bulgarian border. Anti-fracking activists in Bulgaria fear soil and water contamination of the entire region if Romania embraces fracking.
Chevron Halts Shale Gas Search After Protests - Chevron says it has suspended searching for shale gas in northeast Romania following protests in the capital and the local area against fracking. The company said in a statement Thursday its priority was to “conduct these activities in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.” It said it had permits to start drilling for shale gas in the village of Pungesti. The statement came after hundreds of protested Wednesday in a field where Chevron plans to launch its operation, followed by a protest in Bucharest. Local environmentalists say pumping water and chemicals at high pressure into deep rock formations to free oil and gas could contaminate groundwater. Local authorities say they would hold a non-binding referendum on Nov. 24 on whether to allow Chevron to explore for shale.

Saudi Arabia to Use Shale Gas for Domestic Power Generation - In an attempt to reduce its domestic consumption of oil, and therefore free up more product for export to the world markets, Saudi Arabia plans to become one of the first countries outside of North America to use shale gas for power generation. The US shale gas boom transformed the country from the largest gas importer in the world, to a potentially huge exporter, and Saudi Arabia hopes that fracking will supply it with an abundance of natural gas that can be used for domestic power generation. Khalid al-Falih, the chief executive officer at Saudi Aramco, spoke out at the World Energy Congress on Monday, stating that “we are ready to start producing our own shale gas and unconventional resources in various types in the next few years and deliver them to consumers. Only two years after launching our own unconventional gas programme, in the northern region of Saudi Arabia, we are ready to commit gas for the development of a 1,000 megawatt power plant which will feed a massive phosphate mining and manufacturing sector.” Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, has estimated that the country contains unconventional gas reserves of over 600 trillion cubic feet, giving the country the fifth largest reserves in the world according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Fossil Fuel Euphoria, Hallelujah, Oil and Gas Forever! - Michael Klare - For years, energy analysts had been anticipating an imminent decline in global oil supplies.  Suddenly, they’re singing a new song: Fossil fuels growing scarce?  Don’t even think about it!  The news couldn’t be better: fossil fuels will become ever more abundant.  And all that talk about climate change?  Don’t worry about it, they chant.  Go out and enjoy the benefits of cheap and plentiful energy forever. There are good reasons to be deeply skeptical of such claims, but that hardly matters when they are gaining traction in Washington and on Wall Street.  What we’re seeing is a sea change in elite thinking on the future availability and attractiveness of fossil fuels.  Senior government officials, including President Obama, have already become infected with this euphoria, as have top Wall Street investors — which means it will have a powerful and longlasting, though largely pernicious, effect on the country’s energy policy, industrial development, and foreign relations. Today, peak oil seems a distant will-o’-the-wisp.  Experts at the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) confidently project that global oil output will reach 115 million barrels per day by 2040 — a stunning 34% increase above the current level of 86 million barrels.  Natural gas production is expected to soar as well, leaping from 113 trillion cubic feet in 2010 to a projected 185 trillion in 2040. These rosy assessments rest to a surprising extent on a single key assumption: that the United States, until recently a declining energy producer, will experience a sharp increase in output through the exploitation of shale oil and natural gas reserves through hydro-fracking and other technological innovations.   America’s gross domestic product, he claimed, will grow by 2% to 3% over the next seven years as a result of the energy revolution alone, adding as much as $624 billion to the national economy.  Even greater gains can be made, Morse and others claim, if the U.S. becomes a significant exporter of fossil fuels, particularly in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

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