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Can Natural Gas Break Our Oil Habit?

Thomas K. Grose, U.S. & World Report
It is cleaner and more abundant, but it won’t free America from foreign energy

Natural gas is the only fossil fuel capable of getting good press these days. Its fans regularly rhapsodize about its merits, calling it an extraordinary fuel that’s cheap, domestically abundant, and clean. Well, cleaner than oil, at least. Meanwhile, everyone from Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens to the Sierra Club is promoting natural gas as the key that America needs to free itself from its century-long addiction to oil. After all, the nation’s appetite for oil means that nearly 60 percent of the petroleum consumed each year must be imported, much of it from unstable or unsavory regimes in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

… Yet if the nation makes the switch from oil to natural gas to run its vehicles, will it simply be trading one foreign-dependent fuel for another? The answer is, probably. But to what extent is very hard to say. “Welcome to uncertainty,” says Gordon Kaufman, a professor emeritus and oil and gas expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.
(5 March 2009)

The Anatomy of a Natural Gas Price Spike – Past and Future

Jon Freise, The Oil Drum
I wanted to explore the recent history of natural gas prices and try to see what patterns existed and if those patterns could help us predict future prices. In this article I lay out an argument that the price spike of 2001 led to the price spike of 2003. And that our recent spike of 2008 will lead to another spike in 2010 (possibly made worse by the credit collapse).

… The Perfect Spike Setup

We are now living through another perfect spike dip spike pattern. The 2008 price spike encouraged over production. High inventories will suppress prices. The drilling rate will continue to be cut back which will eventually cut maximum flow rate. By the time prices recover enough to restart drilling, it will be far too late to build up enough new wells to meet winter demand. Inventories will fall and prices will spike once more.

Jon Freise, a software engineer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA, and member of the Twin Cities Energy Transition Working Group dedicated to shifting away from fossil fuels
(6 March 2009)

CNQ needs higher gas prices to drill

Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. said it needs natural gas prices to recover to the range of $6.50 to $7.50 per thousand cubic feet before it ramps up drilling in Alberta, regardless of new royalty incentives introduced by the province this week to stimulate activity.
(6 March 2009)

The coming liquid fuels crisis: the natural gas (partial) solution

Martin Payne, Peak Opportunities
Recently, Dr. Robert Hirsch wrote an article titled “Peak oil – what do we do now?”. This brief but content-laden article opined that Peak Oil was essentially past tense, and it correctly implied that little mitigation has taken place, to date. The last paragraph included some mitigation action ideas, but notably missing was any mention of natural gas. Perhaps it was simply an oversight; but with a future liquid fuels/transportation fuels crisis in the works due to Peak Oil, citizens of the United States of America – and their leaders – need clarification.

The truth is, current natural gas prices confirm that there is a substantial surplus of natural gas deliverability in the United States. This surplus is largely due to a rapid development of several huge gas fields which were only discovered in the last several years. These new fields are often referred to as “resource plays”, or “shale gas”, or “unconventional gas”. They are termed “unconventional” because they produce from rock that was formerly not believed capable of being a reservoir, and also due to the fact that this rock forms both the source and the trap for the natural gas.
(3 March 2009)
Also at Energy Bulletin.

Natural Gas Vehicles—how much can they reduce oil imports?
Tom Standing, ASPO-USA Peak Oil Review
… The U.S. may be capable of fueling a major portion of long-haul trucks by increasing domestic gas consumption by 2.5 %, but we would only reduce oil imports by 2 %. In order to achieve that small increment, downstream energy providers would have to overhaul fuel distribution at great cost by producing and trucking LNG all over the U.S. Then there is the expense to replace the fleet of 400,000 trucks to burn LNG.

The lesson learned here is that significant changes in processes by which energy is supplied and consumed require massive influxes of capital across multiple industrial sectors at considerable financial risk. Energy developments evolve slowly over decades, not in years. Senator Reid’s plan cannot be accomplished in 10 years, much less “immediately” as he said.

Tom Standing is an engineer with 44 years of experience in the energy sector in both chemical and civil disciplines. He continues to use his background to assess the many developments taking place throughout the energy sector. He has contributed many Commentaries to Peak Oil Review.
(2 March 2009)
The article is in the last part of the March 2 issue of Peak Oil Review, available from ASPO-USA website

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