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COLUMN: IEA’s golden rules for gas are missed opportunity

John Kemp, Reuters
With the publication of its “Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) has stuck to platitudes, missing an opportunity to develop detailed and credible standards that could speed international acceptance for drilling and fracking unconventional gas wells.

The golden rules, published on Tuesday, are the outcome of a process of consensus-building led by the IEA that has brought together governments, natural gas producers and environmental groups to address social and environmental concerns expressed about fracking and shale gas.

The report’s declared aim is to help the industry win a social licence to operate and “(pave) the way for the widespread development of unconventional gas resources on a large scale, boosting overall gas supply and making the golden age of gas a reality.”…

But overall the report is a disappointment. Rather than spelling out best practices and prescribing detailed international standards that could serve as a benchmark for national regulations, lending them much-needed international credibility, the report is mostly couched in vague principles so broad they are virtually meaningless.
(25 May 2012)
Link to IEA press release

Campaigners’ anger over agency’s shale gas report

Roger Harrabin, BBC Online
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has infuriated environmentalists with a report on what it calls the “golden age” of gas.

The summary says gas use could grow more than 50% by 2035 if local problems with shale extraction can be overcome.

Only in the last paragraph does it say this would be inconsistent with a global temperature rise of 2C.

And it does not warn the boom could lead to a potentially devastating 3.5C rise until page 91 of the full report.

Critics complain that most policy makers won’t get that far and say the IEA should not be celebrating any fossil fuel golden age….
(29 May 2012)

Using shale gas over coal does not help climate, says big gas investor

Fiona Harvey, The Guardian
Using shale gas instead of coal does nothing to help the climate, one of the biggest investors in gas has said, because shale gas companies are failing to use simple technology to fix leaks of a potent greenhouse gas.

Switching from coal to shale gas is supposed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because gas produces less carbon than coal when burned. The difference in emissions has been the chief basis for claims by the gas industry that this new form of gas represents a “green” shift that will help to tackle climate change.

But at present these savings do not exist, according to an authoritative study by Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, a major financial investor in fossil fuels. It would take two or three decades for shale gas to make a genuine dent in greenhouse gas emissions, as large amounts of coal power went offline, the analysis found.

The problem is that “fracking” – blasting rocks apart to obtain gas, which is present in tiny pockets contained within certain dense rocks – produces leaks that pour methane into the atmosphere.
(29 May 2012)
Link to Scottish Widows press release

Shale play a worry for Bexar ozone

Vicki Vaughan, Fuelfix
There are concerns that development of the Eagle Ford Shale could push the San Antonio area over the limit of federal standards for ozone levels, an expert told the members of the Eagle Ford Task Force….

“We don’t have the data we need,” Bella said, “but we’re working hard to get it.” That will require looking at a range of equipment, from diesel trucks to pumps, compressors, rigs and pipelines, he said.

When certain compounds — including those from diesel engines — go up into the atmosphere, they cook in sunlight and lead to ozone, Bella said. Ozone can cause shortness of breath, headaches, nausea and can irritate the throat and lungs….
(25 May 2012)