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IEA doubles global gas reserves estimates

Roger Harrabin, BBC Online
The world may have twice as much natural gas than previously thought, according to the rich nations’ think tank the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The world may have 250 years of gas usage at current levels thanks to “unconventional gas” from shale and coal beds, Anne-Sophie Corbeau, senior gas expert at the IEA told BBC News.

Estimates may even be revised upwards.

Studies are underway into newly-recoverable sources, Ms Corbeau said.

But she stressed that the totals were highly uncertain, and depended on price, technology and the accessibility of supplies.

“The gas story is huge,” she told BBC News.

“A few years ago the United States was ready to import gas. In 2009 it had become the world’s biggest gas producer. This is phenomenal, unbelievable.”…

She said conventional natural gas supplies were assured for 60 years – with maybe a further 60 years if engineers could get to other supplies.

She admitted there is great uncertainly about how much unconventional gas is possible to exploit, but said the best estimate is that new sources will stretch gas supplies to 250 years at current levels….
(20 January 2011)

Shareholders challenge gas companies on fracking

Sheila McNulty, FT Energy Source blog
A group of US investors have filed shareholder resolutions with nine oil and gas companies, pressing them to disclose plans for managing risks associated with the technology being used to extract gas from shale rock.

With the US Environmental Protection Agency investigating the risks; a New York State moratorium on use of the technology; and cases like the one being built against Range Resources in Texas, the resolutions are no surprise.

The shareholder movement, led by Thomas DiNapoli, the New York State Comptroller, is targeting ExxonMobil, Chevron, Ultra Petroleum, El Paso, Cabot Oil & Gas, Southwestern Energy, Energen, Anadarko and Carrizo Oil & Gas. Here is what he had to say about the effort to get more information about hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking:…
(21 January 2011)

Gasland: the review

Helen Robertson, Petroleum Economist
Gasland premieres in the UK this week, just as Cuadrilla Resources prepares to resume shale-gas drilling in Lancashire, a county in northwest England close to Liverpool and Manchester.

And, it’s safe to say, Josh Fox’s exposé of shale-gas practices in North America has created a bit of a stir…

Gasland is being marketed as a documentary, but that’s a creative application of the label. Fox is a theatre director, not a journalist. He exercises creative licence throughout the film and facts rarely get a neutral treatment. The film relies on engaging the viewer’s emotions with the subject material, much like a feature film, or theatre production does. Fox’s technique is to offer case studies of “wronged” residents who have suffered – illnesses, contaminated water supplies and so on – at the hands of the drillers…

These are arguments against Fox and his film. But the shale-gas industry has done itself no favours by failing to engage with him over the issue. Gasland is a polemical presentation of one side of the argument. But its images are compelling and unless gas’s boosters are more willing to answer the genuine criticisms and scotch the misleading ones they’ll lose the public…
(20 January 2011)

UK government rejects calls for shale gas moratorium

Alex Froley, Platts
The UK government Monday effectively rejected calls for a moratorium on shale gas development. The Department of Energy and Climate Change said in a statement that it backed properly carried-out shale gas work.

“We support industry’s endeavors in pursuing such energy sources, provided that tapping of such resources proves to be economically, commercially and environmentally viable,” a DECC spokeswoman said.

“All onshore oil and gas projects, including shale gas exploration and development, are subject to a series of checks, including local planning permission before they are able to move ahead with drilling activities,” the spokeswoman said.

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, based at the University of Manchester and the University of East Anglia, earlier Monday called for a moratorium lasting at least two years…
(20 January 2011)