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'Drill, Baby, Drill? report coverShale Gas and Tight Oil: Boom? Bust? Or Just a Petering Out?

Bill Chameides, Huffington Post
The oil and gas industry promises "a few days of fracking" for "decades of… production." But is it true?…

In the spring of 2008, I was anticipating a lunch meeting with Matthew Simmons. In the oil and gas industry Simmons was considered something of a legend or a pariah, depending on one’s point of view. Either way, he was an iconoclast.

Eventually the conversation turned to shale gas, a topic whose buzz about the coming shale gas revolution had just begun to reach a fevered pitch. A couple of years later many experts (and some non-experts, such as yours truly in posts like this and this) would hail shale gas as a "game changer."

But Simmons distanced himself from those "experts." "It’s all hype," he told me over lunch that blustery day, a sentiment he later conveyed to energy consultant Steve Andrews (co-founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas USA): "I’ve never seen the industry hype something crazier."…

Was Simmons just plain wrong about fracking and tight oil and shale gas? One could argue he was….

And yet, while the fracking business is booming, there are some naysayers out there who have argued that this particular king has no clothes. (See here, here, here and here.)

Now add J. David Hughes of the Post Carbon Institute to the naysayer list. Seeming to channel Simmons in the Comment section of last week’s edition of the journal Nature, Hughes claims that "the production of shale gas and oil is overhyped." As Simmons did, he points to the rapid decline in production rates of fracked wells. Having studied the data from 65,000 U.S. shale wells from 30 shale-gas and 21 tight-oil fields, Hughes concludes:

"Wells decline rapidly within a few years. Those in the top five U.S. plays typically pro­duced 80 to 95 percent less gas after three years. In my view, the industry practice of … inferring lifetimes of 40 years or more, is too optimistic."

(27 February 2013) View Hughes report here

ENERGY: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth, Part 3 – The Bad Idea of Fracking, with Sandra Steingraber (audio)

Barbara Bernstein, Locus Focus, KBOO
In his State of the Union address this month, President Obama pleased many environmental activists when he pledged to seriously address the issue of climate change. But hidden within his promises of promoting renewable and sustainable energy development was a pronouncement that the United States has drastically increased domestic drilling for natural gas. What Obama did not mention was that most of that natural gas is now extracted using an unconventional, controversial method known as fracking.

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk about why fracking is not a sustainable solution to our energy needs. Our guest is Sandra Steingraber, one of the contributors to the new coffee table tome: Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth.

Ecologist, author and cancer survivor, Sandra Steingraber is an internationally recognized authority on the environmental links to cancer and human health. Her highly acclaimed book, Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, presents cancer as a human rights issue. A columnist for Orion magazine, she is currently a scholar in residence in Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY.
(25 February 2013) Link to mp3

Germany moves to allow controversial shale gas drilling

Germany, a country struggling hard to find energy resources to replace nuclear power, has taken a step towards allowing the tapping of shale gas via hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a practice contested by the opposition and public opinion.

Angela Merkel’s government made public on 26 February a draft law allowing the development of shale gas through fracking, though under certain conditions.

Fracking involves pumping vast amounts of water and chemicals at high pressure through drill holes, which together with vertical drilling helps prop open shale rocks to release trapped gas.

The draft legislation introduces environmental safeguards by outlawing fracking in protected areas and near drinking wells, a ban that would apply to 14% of German territory. In addition, environmental impact studies will be made mandatory for any projects.
(28 February 2013)

Colorado Will Sue Fort Collins Over Fracking Ban News
Last week, we reported that the city of Fort Collins, Colorado banned natural gas fracking, but now bigger powers may force them to overturn that decision.

Will the town give in to Colorado’s governor, who immediately threatened to sue? John Hickenlooper, in a televised interview, says he will direct the state to sue Fort Collins to force them to overturn the ban…
(28 February 2013)

Shale falls short for US energy security

Bill Richardson, Financial Times Opinion
Every US president since Richard Nixon has trumpeted the benefits of energy independence…

But we cannot let the desire for energy independence obscure the fact that there will be shortfalls in the future. Nor should it make us ignore the acceleration of climate change…
The writer is a former US energy secretary, governor of New Mexico and UN ambassador

(20 February 2013)

“Frackademia” – MIT’s Ernest Moniz, Obama’s Top Candidate for Energy Secretary, Oversees Pro-Industry-Funded Research

Peter Mantius, DCBureau
Oil and gas companies are funding research at major universities to counter environmental objections to shale gas drilling. President Obama is considering appointing a key beneficially of industry monies at MIT as his new energy secretary.

The oil and gas industry has campaigned hard and paid handsomely for academic support for its media talking points.

Those efforts to justify and promote aggressive drilling for natural gas in shale formations recently erupted in scandal at three highly-regarded universities: Penn State University, the University of Texas at Austin and the State University of New York at Buffalo. Each time, critics of industry-friendly research ferreted out the university’s failure to fully disclose industry ties and ran to the media, which reliably produced ‘gotcha’ stories and nicknamed the practice “Frackademia.”

But those stories ignored or barely mentioned the energy industry’s pervasive influence at an even more prestigious school: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. MIT’s brand as a reliable source of peerless science remains intact…
(21 February 2013)

Gas drilling – Skytruth/flickr