Blog Archive

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

RJS's latest fracking, oil and energy news

Russia Deals Its Gas to China; US Shale Oil Reserves Are Cut by More than Halfthere were also two major energy stories worth noting this week; first, in a deal almost one-fifth the size of the Russian economyRussia and China signed a $400-billion agreement for the former to supply 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually over 30 years at a price at the low end of what it changes European customers, culminating almost of decade's worth of negotiations...Russia has also committed to spending $55 billion on pipeline infrastructure for transporting the gas to China, which could be expanded in the future to deliver as much as 61 bcm per Putin himself was in Beijing to close this deal, it seems likely that the concessions he made to China were at least in part precipitated by US and NATO economic sanctions against Russia over the situation in the Ukraine...needless to say, this, and a smaller deal to supply 3 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) annually, reshapes a major part of the global energy map, as China's need for LNG imports from Indonesia and the Mideast will be reduced, while the Russian gas supply to Europe becomes even more tenuous..
of even greater importance to us domestically, the Energy Information Administration cut its original estimate of recoverable oil reserves in California’s Monterey shale by 96%, from the original estimate of 15.4 billion barrels of oil down to 600 million barrels, or only enough to meet current U.S. oil consumption usage for 32 days...this shale play had been expected to yield twice the oil of the Bakken shale in North Dakota, or 5 times as much as the Eagle Ford in Texas, and was said to be nearly two-thirds of the known shale oil reserves in the what happened, and how were they so wrong in their first estimates?  to start with, the Monterey shale is still there, roughly between 6,000 and 15,000 feet below the California surface, depending on the topography...and it's still embedded with as much oil as it ever was, being that it's been the source of most of California's conventionally exploited oil...the trouble with exploiting California that wasn't a problem in the other areas of the country where fracking has been used is that California has been through hundreds of millennia of tectonic upheavals, such that the layers of bedrock under the state are no longer piled one on top of another like a stack of pancakes as they are in other parts of the country...that means that it's simply impossible to exploit most sections of the Monterey shale by horizontal fracturing, aka illustrate this, below we have a schematic diagram of a typical horizontal fracked well; you can see that the original well bore typically goes to a depth of a couple thousand feet to a mile or more to reach the oil or gas bearing strata, after which horizontal bores are made through the shale, often in several directions, from which bores the shale is blasted apart by a high pressure stream of water, sand and chemicals to yield the oil or gas...immediately below that schematic, we have a picture of the Monterey shale from's pretty obvious that it would be impossible to drill horizontal shafts in that formation to exploit just one strata of the obvious that we have to wonder why no one had pointed out that simple fact before today...anyone want to venture a guess as to how many suckers they got to invest in the Monterey shale before this was made public?
Schematic diagram of a horizontal wellMonterey shale:
monterey shale

-- ----------------------------------------

Chip Northrup of No Fracking Way featured the Wall Street Journal poll results below, which show that public opinion is turning again fracking in all regions of the country:
What’s Not to Like About Fracking ? --  Exploding Bomb Trains. Scraping Radium 226 off your windshield. Getting run off the road by frack truck convoys. Cooking the planet with natural gas. A couple of major Frackastrophes every fracking day. What’s not to like about fracking ? Evidently a whole fracking lot according to a new pro-fracking poll from the Wall Street Journal
fracking poll

Long profile on Youngstown in The Buffalo News:
Youngstown, Ohio, is a city changed by fracking - City & Region - The Buffalo News: You might think an earthquake would be enough to make a town turn against fracking, but no, not here, not with a new billion-dollar steel plant open along the river and more new jobs everywhere you look. This worn-out notch in the Rust Belt, long known for industrial decay and a Bruce Springsteen song about an unemployed steelworker fixing to die, doesn’t seem to mind being shaken up every once in a while if that’s the price to pay for an economic comeback. Youngstown bore that price most severely on New Year’s Eve 2011, when the earth shook with a tremor that measured 4.0 on the Richter scale and that could be felt in Buffalo, 200 miles away. Scientists later found that it happened because a local waste-disposal firm pumped so much fracking waste so deep and so violently into the earth here that the ground began to shake. Still, that wasn’t enough to stir the voters of Youngstown. Three times in the past year, they rejected – by double-digit margins – a ban on fracking similar to the one passed by the Buffalo Common Council in 2011. There’s only one explanation for that, said Susie Beiersdorfer, a geologist who helped lead the fight for the ban on fracking. “It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs,” Beiersdorfer said. “This community has been down so long, that’s all anyone is thinking about.”

An older article I found when I was looking for something else..not good...
Perry nuclear reactor’s risk of severe earthquake damage is 24 times as high as previously thought: — “The risk that an earthquake would cause a severe accident at a U.S. nuclear plant is greater than previously thought, 24 times as high in one case, according to an AP analysis of preliminary government data. And that one case is the Perry 1 nuclear reactor east of Cleveland in Lake County. 

One of the above: Obama’s bet on gas throws caution to the wind - As windfalls go, America’s natural gas boom verges on the biblical. Economists talk of a “game changer.” Producers foresee a US manufacturing renaissance. Greens celebrate the death of King Coal. And strategists talk about a geopolitical trump card – not least in the West’s game of poker with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Hydraulic fracturing has opened up a supply of cheap and relatively clean gas for decades to come. At a time when the US is facing a set of otherwise bleak trends, it is as close as you get to a godsend. That, at least, is the assumption. But what if it is wrong? According to Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm, the US is set to exhaust its supply of “economically recoverable” natural gas supplies by 2030. That estimate is based solely on existing projects, and excludes those that have been announced but not yet started. It also makes the conservative assumption that there will be just three liquefied natural gas export terminals in operation by then, as opposed to the six already in the works. Everyone is piling into the “dash for gas” on the basis that US gas prices will remain cheap as far as the eye can see. Long before 2030, however, US producers will have been pushed into the more expensive shale formations. Industry specialists protest that new technology will have opened up non-economic supplies by then. Yet gas euphoria has pushed risk management out of the window. However cushioned the basket might look, it is unwise to put all your eggs in it. Next month President Barack Obama’s administration will issue a new set of emissions rules that are likely to put most existing US coal-fired power plants out of business. America has likewise turned away from nuclear power. Likewise, Mr Obama set great store in the scaling up of alternative energy supplies such as wind and solar. But in its current mood, Congress looks unlikely to approve the renewal of alternative energy tax credits, which will further limit their potential.

MUST READ: Fugitive Methane Emissions from Fracking Oil and Gas Production Can Cause a ‘Global Catastrophe’ and Point of No Return A Cornell University scientist's claims that oil and gas development is so harmful to the climate that methane emissions and oil and gas production in general need to be cut back immediately to avoid a "global catastrophe" are adding more fuel to the scientific debate over the climate implications of shale oil and gas production. Fossil fuels production is the largest methane pollution source in the U.S., and ignoring those emissions will lead to a climate change “tipping point” from which there is no return, Cornell environmental biology professor Robert Howarth said in a statement Wednesday. He was unavailable for an interview.  Though scientists say there are avenues to preventing catastrophe other than curbing methane emissions, Howarth’s previous research with Cornell environmental engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea and others concluded that the climate impact of natural gas produced from shale — most of which involves hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — may be worse than that of coal and crude oil. That's because methane leaks from natural gas production have a greater effect on the climate than carbon dioxide emissions, Howarth said. Over a 100-year timeframe, methane is about 34 times as potent as a climate change-driving greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and over 20 years, it's 86 times more potent. Of all the greenhouse gases released by humans globally, methane contributes more than 40% of all radiative forcing, a measure of trapped heat in the atmosphere and a measuring stick of a changing climate, Howarth said.

NC Republicans want prison time for revealing what frackers are pumping into the ground  -- Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have introduced a bill that would make it a felony to disclose the chemicals used in fracking operations outside of emergency situations, Energywire reported. The “Energy Modernization Act,” (PDF) as the bill is called, would punish revealing fracking mix information with prison terms of “a few months,” in addition to civil penalties. While it would allow officials with the state emergency management office to gather that information for planning purposes and provide it for medical and firefighting personnel as necessary, first responders might also be forced to sign confidentiality agreements to protect that information. Otherwise, however, those details would be classified as trade secrets, which companies like ex-Vice President Dick Cheney’s former employer, Halliburton, have argued should be maintained in order to protect their business. However, fracking opponents have said that public disclosure of the chemicals used in the process is necessary to gauge how much damage it can do to local land and water supplies. Twenty states currently have laws on the books requiring companies to reveal what chemicals they use.

Illegal Dumping of Texas Frack Waste Caught on Video - If not for surveillance video given to the sheriff's department, the trucker responsible for the dumping may have disappeared into the night. But the video caught the distinctive flash from the reflective stripes on the tanker. It was the telltale clue detectives needed. Although sheriff's investigators couldn't determine whether the illegal dumping was intentional, it highlights the growing problem of how to dispose of billions of gallons of contaminated fluids left over from both the drilling and production phases of oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Karnes County is at the epicenter of a drilling boom in the 26-county Eagle Ford Shale region of South Texas. It's one of the most active drilling areas in the country, where nearly 9,000 wells have been sunk and another 5,500 approved since 2008. Drilling and fracking a single well in the Eagle Ford can take 4.9 million gallons of water, according to a report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. All of that contaminated liquid waste has to be disposed of in some way. Among the approved disposal methods in Texas are injecting the unwanted fluid into deep underground wells, recycling, pumping it into huge open pits to evaporate or spraying it on top of sprawling waste fields. The pits and waste fields are being cited as a major source of noxious fumes and harmful airborne chemicals."There is so much of this that they don't know what to do with it,"  "So it's not surprising that there are cases where it's just dumped anywhere."Texas Department of Transportation officials closed the road so it could be cleaned up by a hazardous-waste disposal company, according to the sheriff's department report. Karnes City firefighters worried there may be flammable substances and potentially deadly hydrogen sulfide in the mix.

Fracking causing earthquakes? Lawmakers want to know — Monday the Subcommittee on Seismic Activity will hold a hearing at the State Capitol to listen to testimony concerning earthquakes and their possible relation to fracking. Hundreds of minor earthquakes have occurred in Northern Texas near the sites of oil and gas production and lawmakers want to know if fracking is causing it or a fault line. Fracking is a process where liquid, many times water, is mixed with sand and other chemicals and injected into the ground at a very high pressure to penetrate the deep rock formations to extract the gas and oil. The water that is used in the process is then stored in disposal wells near these sites because it is too polluted with metals and toxins. The big question by experts is, is the act of the drilling or the disposal wells that are buried thousands of feet underground causing the earthquakes? North Texas has experienced more than 300 minor earthquakes in the past few years, some in the Barnett Shale area near Dallas Fort Worth. The subcommittee will not take public comment Monday but instead invited speakers like the Mayors of Reno and Azle as well as university geologists, and the Railroad Commission Seismologist will testify.

Texas Jury Decides Fracking is a Nuisance -  At best. What a surprise.  A Texas jury just awarded damages to a homeowner that sued a fracker for being a nuisance. Even Texans think fracking is a nuisance. Heck, even the CEO of Exxon thinks it’s a nuisance.  ...— Sam and Jane Crowder have lived in the same home for 41 years of their 49-year marriage. It’s on Madrid Lane, in southwest Fort Worth.Their backyard is an oasis, with a pond and landscaping. But the neighbor that moved in just beyond the backyard is what they call a nuisance.“It’s an ever-present annoyance,” Sam said. “This does not belong by houses.” A jury called it a nuisance, too. A gas-drilling site is approximately 165 feet from the Crowder’s back fence. The Crowders sued over, among other things, the dust, noise, and smell they say came from the site. The trial ended this week, and the jury sided with them, agreeing that Chesapeake Energy – which operates the site – created a nuisance and prevented the Crowders from enjoying their property. “It’s hard to put into words,” Sam said, choking up a bit. “I think now people will pay attention and listen to us, because no one ever listened before.” The jury awarded the Crowders $20,000, which is much less than the $108,000 they asked for. But overall, the verdict is more than they hoped for.

Northeast States Rush To Keep Fracking Wastewater Out - Senate Democrats in New York are renewing efforts to protect the state from the byproducts of the fracking boom in Pennsylvania. A new four-bill package would ban the waste from being used to de-ice roads and bar treatment facilities and landfills from accepting waste leftover from the drilling technique.  There are no active fracking operations in New York as the state is still involved in an extensive review of the impacts of permitting the practice, but landfills in New York currently accept fracking waste from other states and the salty brine wastewater is widely used in the state to help melt ice off roads.  “It makes no sense to me to allow the waste product from this process in Pennsylvania to be transported here,” Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, sponsor of a bill (S.5123-A) to prohibit the transportation of fracking waste into the state for treatment, disposal or storage told the Legislative Gazette.  The process produces millions of gallons of waste containing a cocktail of chemicals and naturally occurring radioactive material. The exact composition of fracking fluid is considered a trade secret in most states and is not public information.  In 2012, Pennsylvania produced 1.2 billion gallons of fracking wastewater. Much of that waste got shipped out of state to neighboring Ohio, which has experienced a dramatic increase in seismic activity in part related to wastewater that is injected deep underground for storage.

WSJ:  Frack Protesters Welcome Obama To Birthplace of Frack Bans -- WSJ: Hundreds of Fracking Protesters Greet Obama in Cooperstown. Because his advance team had not bothered to tell him that the Village was celebrating the 3rd anniversary of its frack ban – the first one in America. So rather than enter the Hall of Fame via the front door the way respectable folks do, he was spirited in via the service dock in a back alley. This did not go unnoticed by the Wall Street JournalPresident Barack Obama visited the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday as crowds chanted outside, but these weren’t fans cheering on America’s pastime. Instead, they were protesters chanted “End fracking now!” And while baseball and oil production may not seem to go together, Cooperstown residents have been rallying against fracking for years. Middlefield and Otsego, which together encompass the Village of Cooperstown, came together in 2011 to pass the first local fracking ban by limiting industrial activities within the town’s borders. The ban has been upheld in two lower courts and the top-level Court of Appeals is expected to decide the case this summer.  Cooperstown still has a statement from 2011 prominently linked on its website.

The Poor Regulation of the Fracking Industry - Ohio annually processes thousands of tons of radioactive waste from hydraulic-fracturing, sending it through treatment facilities, injecting it into its old and unused gas wells and dumping it in landfills. Historically, the handling and disposal of that waste was barely regulated, with few requirements for how its potential contamination would be gauged, or how and where it could be transported and stored. With the business of fracking waste only growing, legislators in 2013 had the chance to decide how best to monitor the state’s vast amounts of toxic material, much of it being trucked into Ohio from neighboring states. But despite calls to require that the waste be rigorously tested for contamination, Governor John Kasich and the state legislature signed off on measures that require just a fraction of the waste to be subjected to such oversight. The great majority of the byproducts creating during the drilling process—the water and rock unearthed—still do not have to be tested at all. As well, the legislature, lobbied by the fracking industry, undid the governor’s bid to have the testing of the waste done by the state’s Department of Health—the agency acknowledged by many to possess the most expertise with radioactive material. The testing is now the responsibility of the Department of Natural Resources, the agency that oversees the permitting and inspection of oil and gas drilling sites, but that has no track record for dealing with radioactive waste. A ProPublica review of the legislature’s actions shows that just a handful of parties testified before the oversight committees charged with examining the pros and cons of the proposed regulations. And interviews with legislative staffers make clear that the final language of the regulations, including changes that scaled back two measures proposed by the governor, was inserted into the budget bill at the last minute. And so today, to the surprise of much of the public as well as some elected officials, Ohio’s oversight of fracking waste remains much as it had been—limited and controversial.

Energy Companies Try New Methods to Address Complaints About Fracking - --- Frackers are trying to clean up their act.  Thanks to hydraulic fracturing—a technology that uses water, chemicals and sand to unlock oil and gas trapped in dense underground rocks—communities from Pennsylvania to North Dakota are experiencing a boom in energy production. But the industry is facing more intense pressure from communities and environmentalists over its role in increased air and water pollution. In response, energy companies are pioneering new technologies to curb some of fracking's worst offenses. They're coming up with ways to cut methane seepage from their equipment, use excess gas that previously had been burned as waste to fuel drilling rigs, and put huge volumes of wastewater from fracking to work on new wells. The efforts have even won some tentative plaudits from environmentalists. Mark Brownstein, who leads the Environmental Defense Fund's efforts on natural gas, says companies should be required to do more to keep air and water clean. But he says there are some promising signs that companies are trying new things and revising certain processes, if only because they've realized it's in their best interest. "With the right technology, the right management practices and the right regulations properly enforced," he says, "there are things we can do to reduce the risks that are associated with unconventional oil and gas development."
EIA Cuts Monterey Shale Estimates on Extraction Challenges -- The Energy Information Administration slashed its estimate of recoverable reserves from California’s Monterey Shale by 96%, saying oil from the largest U.S. formation will be harder to extract than previously anticipated.“Not all reserves are created equal,” EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski told reporters at the Financial Times and Energy Intelligence Oil & Gas Summit in New York today. “It just turned out it’s harder to frack that reserve and get it out of the ground.” The Monterey Shale is now estimated to hold 600 million barrels of recoverable oil, down from a 2012 projection of 13.7 billion barrels, John Staub, a liquid fuels analyst for the EIA, said in a phone interview. A 2013 study by the University of Southern California’s Global Energy Network, funded in part by industry group Western States Petroleum Association, found that developing the state’s oil resources may add as many as 2.8 million jobs and as much as $24.6 billion in tax revenues.

Monterrey Shale Scam Downgraded by 95%  --The EIA has cut its original estimate of recoverable shale oil reserves in California’s much-hyped Monterey shale play by 96%, the L.A. Times’ Louis Sahagun reported late Tuesday. The agency now says there are just 600 million barrels of recoverable crude — as much as Bolivia. Previously the agency had said there were up to 13.7 billion recoverable barrelsSahagun quotes EIA analyst John Staub:  From the information we’ve been able to gather, we’ve not seen evidence that oil extraction in this area is very productive using techniques like fracking…Our oil production estimates combined with a dearth of knowledge about geological differences among the oil fields led to erroneous predictions and estimates. In December, the Post Carbon Institute published a report calling into question the EIA’s initial estimate, noting that the Monterey’s geology, while superficially similar to the country’s marquee shale plays like the Bakken and Eagle Ford, contained unusual characteristics that would make it more difficult to access. In a statement last night the group said, “The oil had always been a statistical fantasy. Left out of all the hoopla was the fact that the EIA’s estimate was little more than a back-of-the-envelope calculation.”

In Stunning Backtrack, Feds Say Our Largest Shale Oil Reserve Is Mostly Un-Drillable -- The amount of oil that could be extracted from the country’s largest shale oil formation has been overstated by 96%, federal energy officials admitted Tuesday, dealing a major blow to industry projections about a new oil-boom future. In a new estimate to be released publicly next month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is expected to say that only 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted from California’s Monterey Shale deposits — an amount of oil that would only be enough to meet U.S. oil consumption for 32 days. That number is far below the agency’s previous estimates, which said the shale likely held 13.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil, or enough to meet U.S. oil consumption needs for more than two years.  The EIA did not return ThinkProgress’ request for comment on the error in time for publication. But according to an L.A. Times report, the incorrect 13.7 billion barrel estimate of recoverable oil was issued in 2011 by an independent contractor for the government, which “broadly assumed” that oil from the Monterey Shale formation was as easily recoverable as the other prominent shale oil reserves in the country. Those reserves are the Bakken shale in North Dakota and Eagle Ford shale in Texas, which are estimated to hold approximately 3.6 billion barrels and 3.4 billion barrels of oil, respectively. While the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale deposits are “relatively even and layered like a cake,” the L.A. Times said, the 1,750-square-mile Monterey Shale has been “folded and shattered” by earthquakes — meaning the oil is lodged too deep to recover with currently available technology.

The California Shale Bubble Just Burst - The great hype surrounding the advent of a shale gas bonanza in California may turn out to be just that: hype. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) – the statistical arm of the Department of Energy – has downgraded its estimate of the total amount of recoverable oil in the Monterey Shale by a whopping 96%. Its previous estimate pegged the recoverable resource in California’s shale formation at 13.7 billion barrels but it now only thinks that there are 600 million barrels available. The estimate is expected to be made public in June.  The sharply downgraded numbers come amid a heated debate in California over whether or not the state should permit oil and gas companies to use hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) – the process in which a combination of water, chemicals and sand are injected underground at high pressure in order to break apart shale rock and access trapped natural gas.  Fracking involves enormous quantities of water; an average of 127,127 gallons of water were required to frack a single California well in 2013, according to the Western States Petroleum Association. That’s equivalent to 87% of the water a family of four uses in an entire year.   California is home to an enormous agricultural industry, and with the Monterey Shale located beneath the fertile Central Valley, fracking is going to compete with agriculture, ranching and other commercial and residential users for water use. With 100% of California now in a state of “severe” drought, critics of fracking have gained traction in the debate over the extent to which the government should allow oil and gas companies to move in.

California Is In An Extremely Awkward Position Now That The Government Says Most Of Its Shale Oil Is Unrecoverable-  Last night, the L.A. Times' Louis Sahagun reported a piece of data dynamite the Energy Information Administration plans to detonate under California next month: There now appears to be just 600 million barrels of recoverable tight oil in the state's vast Monterey shale play — a downward revision of 96% from the agency's 2011 estimate. "The shale deposits of the Monterey are much thicker and much more complex, with target strata up to 2,000 or more feet in thickness, and at depths that can range from surface outcrops to more than 18,000 feet within a span of 40 miles or less." BI had previously talked with experts who said there were so many unknowns about the Monterey that it wasn't really on anyone's radars as a potential new chapter in the Great American Shale Boom. "It is not a focus right now," ITG's David Howard told us in December. "The market has moved away from really paying attention California unconventional and I follow the market." So, it's debatable whether it can reasonably be called "a blow to the nation's oil future," as the LAT's Sahagun put it, since no one was really factoring it into that future in the first place. But it certainly makes things extremely awkward for California. The state had pinned its hopes on a March 2013 USC study that argued tapping the Monterey could create up to 2.8 million jobs by 2020 and add up to $25 billion to state and local tax revenue. "Californians drive 332 billion, that's billion miles a year, fed almost entirely by oil products, so we have got to start hammering at the demand, as well as the sources of fossil fuel," California Governor Jerry Brown told CNN Sunday. In September 2013, Brown — often labeled as having a thumb as green as Shrek's — signed into law a bill that allowed the small-scale fracking that already occurs in to continue, with a view toward one day tapping what was thought to be Monterey's vast and accessible deposits.

Write-down of two-thirds of US shale oil explodes fracking myth -- Next month, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) will publish a new estimate of US shale deposits set to deal a death-blow to industry hype about a new golden era of US energy independence by fracking unconventional oil and gas. EIA officials told the Los Angeles Times that previous estimates of recoverable oil in the Monterey shale reserves in California of about 15.4 billion barrels were vastly overstated. The revised estimate, they said, will slash this amount by 96% to a puny 600 million barrels of oil. The Monterey formation, previously believed to contain more than double the amount of oil estimated at the Bakken shale in North Dakota, and five times larger than the Eagle Ford shale in South Texas, was slated to add up to 2.8 million jobs by 2020 and boost government tax revenues by $24.6 billion a year. Industry lobbyists have for long highlighted the Monterey shale reserves as the big game-changer for US oil and gas production. Nick Grealy, who runs the consultancy No Hot Air which is funded by "gas and associated companies," predicted last year that: "... the star of the North American show is barely on most people's radar screens. California shale will... reinvigorate the Golden State's economy over the next two to three years." This sort of hype triggered "a speculation boom among oil companies" according to the L.A. Times. The EIA's original survey for the US Department of Energy  published in 2011 had been contracted out to Intek, Inc. That report found that the Monterey shale constituted "64% of the total shale oil resources" in the US.

The US Shale Oil Miracle Disappears - Chris Martenson - The US shale oil "miracle" has about as much believability left as Jimmy Swaggart. Just today, we learned that the EIA has placed a hefty downward revision on its estimate of the amount of recoverable oil in the #1 shale reserve in the US, the Monterey in California.  As recently as yesterday, the much-publicized Monterey formation accounted for nearly two-thirds of all technically-recoverable US shale oil resources. But by this morning? The EIA now estimates these reserves to be 96% lower than it previously claimed.  Yes, you read that right: 96% lower. As in only 4% of the original estimate is now thought to be technically-recoverable at today's prices:  (Source)  From 13.7 billion barrels down to 600 million.  Using a little math, that means the hoped for 2.8 million jobs become 112k and the $24.6 billion in tax revenues shrink to $984 million.  The reasons why are no surprise to my readers, as over the years we've covered the reasons why the Monterey was likely to be a bust compared to other formations. Those reasons are mainly centered on the fact that underground geology is complex, that each shale formation has its own sets of surprises, and that the geologically-molested (from millennia of tectonic folding and grinding) Monterey formation was very unlikely to yield its treasures as willingly as, say, the Bakken or Eagle Ford. But even I was surprised by the extent of the downgrade. This takes the Monterey from one of the world's largest potential fields to a play that, if all 600 million barrels thought to be there were brought to the surface all at once, would supply the US' oil needs for a mere 33 days.

NY shale prospects dim six years after leasing frenzy Industry faces mounting legal, economic hurdles - New York’s Marcellus Shale gas reserves, once thought to be world class, continue to lose their luster along with the gumption to develop them. Shale gas proponents, once giddy with anticipation during the leasing boom of 2008, know now what they didn’t know then: legal hurdles to overcome state and local roadblocks look more formidable if not insurmountable with each passing court case and hearing, and the resource looks less and less worth the effort under today’s economics. Two recent indicators of future prospects in New York have, for the most part, slipped under the radar of the mainstream press, but it’s a reasonable bet they have not escaped notice of prospectors and the people who finance them. The first indicator is the status of a lawsuit by industry and a group of landowners to legally force open the Marcellus frontier in New York. I’ll get to that in a minute. The other indicator is the latest assessment of economically recoverable reserves under current market conditions, if the moratorium were lifted or bypassed. First the economics. Many will recall the summer of 2008, when the leasing frenzy – whipped up by a $110 million deal between XTO Energy and landowners in Deposit, New York – sent lease prices soaring along the relatively unexplored fringes of the Marcellus in the Southern Tier of New York. Since then, the price of natural gas has fallen by more than two thirds. Moreover, New York state’s moratorium on shale gas development, pending a review originally expected to last a year, is about to begin year seven, with no end in sight. In the meantime prospectors have moved on to other ventures, leaving many to wonder when and if they will return to the Empire State. The answer is simple: They will return when and if (a) it’s allowed and (b) it’s profitable.

Oil Spills Increased by 17% in 2013 - The rate of oil drilling in the U.S. leveled off in 2013, but the same can’t be said for the amount of spills that took place.  According to a report from E&E Publishing, there were at least 7,662 spills, blowouts, leaks and similar incidents last year in 15 of the top states for onshore oil and gas activity. In states where the publication could compare results for both years, the publication determined there were about 20 more spills per day than in 2012. While most of the spills were small, they amounted to more than 26 million gallons of oil, fracking wastewater and more. That’s equivalent to the amount of oil BP gushed into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. North Dakota, Montana, Pennsylvania and Texas were among the states with the largest increases. Production-related spills more than doubled to 103 in Ohio, but that figure is tiny compared to other states.  In some states, the spill increases have led to more enforcement, while that’s not the case in others. Notices of alleged violations increased by 50 percent  in Colorado. Since 2010, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources tripled the number of workers who deal with oil and gas to more than 100. That includes 50 inspectors.

Railroad CEO Wants To Send Oil Trains Through Town Where Derailment Killed 47 Last Year - Oil trains could soon be traveling through Lac Mégantic, the tiny Quebec town that was the scene of one of the deadliest train accidents in Canadian history last July. The new owner of the railroad company responsible for the Lac Mégantic oil train disaster, a derailment which killed 47 people and destroyed much of the town’s center, said this week that within the next ten days he wants to have an agreement with Lac Mégantic officials to restart oil train shipments through the town. John Giles, CEO of the Central Maine and Quebec railway who on Thursday purchased the U.S. assets of the bankrupt Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, said the company plans to invest in safety improvements before restarting oil shipments 18 months from now, spending $10 million on rail improvements over the next two summers. “In the interest of safety, and I think being sensitive toward a social contract with Lac-Mégantic, we have chosen not to handle crude oil and dangerous goods through the city until we’ve got the railroad infrastructure improved, and made more reliable,” Giles told The Associated Press. Giles didn’t address a desire expressed by Lac Mégantic’s mayor to divert the oil trains around the city, so to try to prevent another deadly derailment.

Conflict with Local Communities Hits Mining and Oil Companies Where It Hurts -  Conflicts with local communities over mining, oil and gas development are costing companies billions of dollars a year. One corporation alone reported a six billion dollar cost over a two-year period according to the first-ever peer-reviewed study on the cost of conflicts in the extractive sector. The Pascua Lama gold mining project in Chile has cost Canada’s Barrick Gold 5.4 billion dollars following 10 years of protests and irregularities. No gold has ever been mined and the project has been suspended on court order. And in Peru, the two billion dollar Conga copper mining project was suspended in 2011 after protests broke out over the projected destruction of four high mountain lakes. The U.S.-based Newmont Mining Co, which also operates the nearby Yanacocha mine, has now built four reservoirs which, according to its plan, are to be used instead of the lakes. “Communities are not powerless. Our study shows they can organise and mobilise, which results in substantial costs to companies,” said co-author Daniel Franks, deputy director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining. “Unfortunately conflicts can also result in bloodshed and loss of life,”  The study is based on 45 in-depth, confidential interviews with high-level officials in the extractive (energy and mining) industries with operations around the world.

How The Russia-China Gas Deal Hurts U.S. Liquid Natural Gas Industry - Russia and China finalized a truly massive gas deal during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Shanghai this week, and while the agreement is a bilateral one, its effects will be felt as far away as Texas and Louisiana.  The financial details remain murky – Gazprom’s CEO Aleksei Miller called them a “commercial secret” – but the total value of the contract is estimated at $400 billion. Russia agreed to deliver 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas to China each year beginning in 2018, the equivalent of one-quarter of China’s current annual consumption.  The deal spans 30 years and solidifies what has often been a tense relationship between Moscow and Beijing. Russian media is calling it the “gas deal of the century.”  Even if Russia had to make large concessions to China on the final price, the deal gives it access to one of the world’s largest energy markets and diversifies its customer base away from a Europe looking for other suppliers. China, meanwhile, has gained a secure supply of natural gas for decades. But the geopolitical ramifications don’t stop there. A deal of such a monumental size will undoubtedly ripple through energy markets. For example, China has long been seen as a massive consumer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) – gas that is turned to liquid form and transported by super-chilled container ships. The deal with Russia could curb quite a bit of that projected demand; the 38 bcm that will flow to China via pipelines will supply a tenth of China’s annual gas consumption by 2020.

No comments: