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France reaffirms opposition to shale gas exploration

Cécile Barbière, Euractiv
French Environment Minister Philippe Martin reiterated his government’s strong opposition to the exploitation of shale gas, despite a parliamentary report advocating more flexibility towards unconventional gas.

The French government says it will not issue the permits for shale gas exploitation requested by the US company Hess Oil, Martin, the energy and ecology minister, announced on 28 November.

Hess oil brought the the seven permits from the company Toreador, which had secured them in 2010. The oil covered by the permits is located in the Parisian basin. The permits were never clearly cancelled after the government set a law in 2011 prohibiting hydraulic fracturing…
(2 December 2013)

Fracking bonanza eludes wastewater recycling investors

David Wethe and Peter Ward, Bloomberg via Fuelfix
After two years searching for a blockbuster investment in oil field water management, fund manager Judson Hill is still holding on to his money.

Hill’s NGP Energy Capital Management saw potential in what looked like a hot growth area in energy: treating and recycling the 21 billion barrels of wastewater flowing annually from U.S. oil and natural gas wells — particularly from shale.

Instead, it found the market “too fragmented and too frothy,” said Hill, a managing director at the private equity firm in Texas whose latest fund has invested $3.6 billion. “It’s not as though we look back and say, ’Wow, half the ones we passed on were just home runs.’ They weren’t.”…
(26 November 2013)

Lord Browne: fracking will not reduce UK gas prices

Damian Carrington, The Guardian
Fracking is not going to reduce gas prices in the UK, according to the chairman of the UK’s leading shale gas company.

The statement by Lord Browne, one of the most powerful energy figures in Britain, contradicts claims by David Cameron and George Osborne that shale gas exploration could help curb soaring energy bills.

Browne added to the government’s ongoing troubles over energy policy by labelling nuclear power as "very, very expensive indeed" and describing the fact that more state subsidies are given to oil and gas than to renewable energy as "like running both the heating and the air conditioning at the same time".

The former chief executive of BP, who now holds a senior government position as lead non-executive director, told an audience at the London School of Economics that climate change was "existentially important", but that without gas the transition to a zero-carbon energy system would never happen…
(29 November 2013)

Midnight Sabotage with Transylvania’s Anti-Fracking Activists

Jim Wickens,
“Do you think they’re about to have sex?” one of the group whispers. I’m in Transylvania, crouched in the bushes with a bunch of activists in balaclavas, taking turns to speculate on why a car has crept to a halt close to where we are hiding. “No, it must be the cops, you can see the light from the mobile phone,” another one says. Time to move on.

It has been over an hour since the group started trashing equipment owned by the gas exploration company Prospectiuni, playing an edgy game of cat and mouse as we struggle to stay one step ahead of the security teams and police vehicles that are now sweeping the hilltops looking for us. Another light tears round the bend on the road and the shout goes through the team to hide. I throw myself down; stretched out once again in the cool, damp grass of a Transylvanian meadow. It’s going to be a long night…
(26 November 2013)

Banks Reluctant to Lend in Shale Plays as Evidence Mounts on Harm to Property Values Near Fracking

Sharon Kelly, DeSmogBlog

Banks Reluctant to Lend in Shale Plays as Evidence Mounts on Harm to Property Values Near Fracking (via Desmogblog)

Over the past several years, the fossil-fuel industry has been highly adept at publicizing the economic upshots of fracking: royalty checks, decreased prices for oil and gas, profits for investors. But the industry is far less eager to discuss the…

(25 November 2013)

Shale gas could restrain rising energy costs, says report

Robin Webster, Carbon Brief
A thriving European shale gas industry could help limit energy bills rises by the middle of the century, according to a new report from two respected energy consultancies. The report – which is sponsored by the oil and gas industry – also predicts that shale gas won’t threaten Europe’s plans to reduce carbon emissions.

In a time of rising energy bills, the question of whether shale gas could provide the UK with a source of cheap gas has attracted a considerable amount of media attention. The consensus of expert opinion suggests that indigenously produced shale gas is unlikely to have a significant impact on gas prices in the UK – at least in the short-term.

Yesterday’s report projects the impacts of developing a shale gas industry across the whole of the EU, over several decades. It predicts household spend on gas and electricity could be cut by 11 per cent in relative terms as a result of European shale gas – although that doesn’t necessarily mean that bills will go down in absolute terms.

The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) commissioned the report, which might invite scepticism about its relatively optimistic conclusions. But the two consultancies who created the analysis – Poyry consulting and Cambridge Econometrics – emphasise that it was conducted independently, without involvement of the OGP members…
(26 November 2013)

For IEA, shale has no long-term impact on oil price

John Kemp, Reuters Column
Shale will not significantly boost oil production or bring down prices in the long term, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The surprising findings are contained in the latest version of the agency’s annual World Energy Outlook (WEO).

Worldwide production of light tight oil (LTO) from shale and other formations requiring fracking is expected to grow from 2.0 million barrels per day in 2012 to just 5.8 million bpd by 2030, before declining slightly to 5.6 million bpd in 2035.

The agency predicts shale will account for no more than 6 percent of annual oil and liquids production over the next 20 years…

These forecasts are extremely conservative. The agency predicts that the oil industry will struggle to add the same amount of output in the rest of the world over two decades as from a single shale play in the United States…
(14 November 2013)

Beneath the Hype: Track Records and Physical Evidence Cast Doubts on Stories of Oil Plenty

Daniel Davis, Jeremy Leggett, PUB
Last week the International Energy Agency in Paris released its annual World Energy Outlook, which projects energy trends out to 2035. As it did last year, the 2013 WEO had plenty of good news for Americans: "The net North American requirement for crude imports all but disappears by 2035 and the region becomes a larger exporter of oil products." Before we celebrate the end of the Middle East’s dominant role in global energy, however, a quick review of the IEA’s track record on its projections might be in order. Further, an analysis of a few key global oil production factors exposes the unstable foundation upon which hopes for North American oil independence are built.

Many governments are pinning their hopes — indeed, some their national economic health — on this feel-good narrative of perpetual abundance, yet which is based on thin evidence and a great deal of industry bluster. We believe that considerable evidence suggests the decline trend in global oil production will resume before the end of this decade. For example, even the otherwise optimistic 2013 WEO made this stunning admission:

Our analysis of more than 1,600 fields confirms that, once production has peaked, an average conventional field can expect to see annual declines in output of around 6% per year. While this figure varies according to the type of field, the implication is that conventional crude output from existing fields is set to fall by more than 40 mb/d by 2035. Among the other sources of oil, most unconventional plays are heavily dependent on continuous drilling to prevent rapid field-level declines. Of the 790 billion barrels of total production required to meet our projections for demand to 2035, more than half is needed just to offset declining production.

(20 November 2013)

This next one isn’t about fracking. Oil shale is a different animal to tight oil (sometimes called shale oil). Oil shale is at the bottom of the resource pyramid. Strictly speaking it isn’t oil but kerogen. Kurt Cobb describes it here.

How threatened is Uinta Basin’s rare desert flower?

Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune
Graham’s and White River beardtongue are rare desert flowers that grow almost exclusively in Uintah County’s badlands. But these plants, also known as penstemon, sink their roots into Green River Formation shales, putting their conservation on a collision course with a vast yet untapped hydrocarbon resource.

For reasons that are not well understood, these beardtongue species appear only near Utah’s oil shale outcrops, known as the Mahogany Ledge, federal officials say.

These are the very places that energy developers intend to mine in coming years, in the hope of achieving a long-standing dream of recovering actual oil from rock rich in kerogen, the promising organic source.

Just as plans are hatching to develop two big oil shale mines, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the rare plants as threatened species. A final ruling is due in July…
(1 December 2013)

Teaser image via openclipart