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Natural gas & fracking

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Report questions long-term productivity of gas wells in Barnett Shale

Fort Worth Star-Telegramvia Business Week
As natural gas fields go, the rise of the Barnett Shale from a novelty to the nation's largest by 2008 was extraordinary.

But when it comes to the output from the thousands of wells that have been drilled in the North Texas field since 1981, ordinary is perhaps a better word.

An as-yet-unreleased study of the Barnett Shale by the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, which looked at the performance of more than 16,000 wells through June 2011, projects an average lifetime production of about 1.44 billion cubic feet for a model horizontal well, according to preliminary results presented at an Austin energy conference in November.

That figure, called the estimated ultimate recovery, or EUR, is well below many industry estimates of at least 2 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas and as much as 3 bcf per well.
(13 February 2013)


Town Sued After Barring Debate on Gas Extraction at Meetings

Peter Applebome, New York Times
In upstate communities large and small, natural gas drilling has generated talk, heat, acrimony and controversy, from regular citizens to concerned celebrities like Yoko Ono and Mark Ruffalo.

Now the town of Sanford, N.Y., by the Pennsylvania border, one of the rare places where officials have actively sought renewed gas drilling, including the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, finds itself in court because it decided that it had heard just too much.

In September, Sanford’s town board unanimously approved a resolution to bar any more discussion of gas drilling at its monthly meetings because the issue was taking up too much of its time...
(12 February 2013)


PwC: Shale oil surge poses threat to renewables

Will Nichols, Business Green
A worldwide expansion of relatively cheap shale oil could put investment in renewable energy and global emissions targets under threat, as well as posing other environmental risks.

The shale oil industry is still in its infancy, but has the potential to reach up to 12 per cent of global production, potentially pushing down oil prices by as much as $50 per barrel by 2035, according to a new report by consultancy firm PwC.

Lower oil prices are more likely to extend production rather than simply increase it, but this could make alternative low carbon technologies less attractive, Jonathan Grant, director of sustainability and climate change at PwC, told BusinessGreen.

However, the report also notes that cheaper oil could displace production from higher cost and more environmentally sensitive areas such as the Arctic and Canadian tar sands, while tax windfalls could provide finance for carbon capture and storage and other low carbon technologies.
(14 February 2013)


Gas company targets protected Manú park in Peruvian Amazon

David Hill, The Guardian
An energy company is eyeing up the gas reserves of a national park in the Peruvian Amazon whose biodiversity Unesco says "exceeds that of any other place on Earth" and is home to indigenous people who have no regular contact with the outside world, a leaked document seen by the Guardian shows.

The revelation about Manú national park follows rumours and reports circulating in Peru that the government will create a gas concession bordering or including parts of the park, but which have not been publicly confirmed...

Peruvian law prohibits extractive operations in national parks. According to Quartz's document, dated March 2012, Pluspetrol has applied for and been denied permission from Peru's protected areas authority to enter the region, but Quartz could develop a strategy to obtain such permission in the future.
(11 February 2013)


NY fracking decision faces further delay on health study

Edward McAllister, Reuters
New York State's decision to lift a four-year ban on natural gas drilling faced further delay on Tuesday after officials conducting a key health impact study asked for more time to form their conclusions on the divisive issue.

The New York Department of Health, which has been commissioned to study how the drilling process known as fracking affects public health, said the review is ongoing but that a few more weeks are needed due to the "complexity of the issues".

"As we have been reviewing the scope of these studies, I have determined that the DOH Public Health Review will require additional time to complete based on the complexity of the issues," said health commissioner Nirav Shah in a letter to Joe Martens, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
(12 February 2013)

Image credit: Gas drilling - Skytruth/flickr

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