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As an NG extender, to facilitate a gentle letdown of North American (and European) NG production shale gas is certainly viable. But a new lease on life it probably isn't. The high rates of drilling and price needed, the high decline rates and mostly low productivity make it volatile enough so that it can't be counted on to deliver NG as needed i.e. to completely fill the gap left by conventional gas. E.g. in the wake of the Great Recession and because of low prices the rate of drilling has dropped so sharply that production can be expected to drop again in the medium term. The law of receding horizons applies.

As to environmental impacts the most pertinent issues are water contamination and GHG emissions. The EPA is studying the groundwater issue and will present results 2012-2014. That's highly dependent on local geology. So probably no definite answers.

The other water issue is how they dispose of the drilling fluids. That's something that can be handled with proper regulations though with higher cost. "Indeed, efforts by shale gas producers to remain exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act are surely counterproductive and counterintuitive if the production of shale gas is really as benign as the industry contends.55"

GHG emissions (over full cycle) are controversial (a study says it's actually more than coal because of escaping methane) but in my view irrelevant. Whatever is there will be produced high GHG emissions or not.

Anyway this report challenges the consensus opinion about newly abundant gas.

In Europe there is so much less shale gas available that under the best of circumstances it will only serve to cushion the decline.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Fri May 27th, 2011 at 05:00:07 PM EST
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