Gas

Don’t forget national 8 2016 7

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A Good Day to Drill for Bad News

On Thursday May the 22nd, election day, the coalition in the UK issued a report on the vast resources of onshore oil and gas in the south of England, Tory heartland.

Among all the comments about burying bad news on a big news day the facts remain simple and stark, we, the UK Government have 2 options; the environmental option or the pragmatic option.

The environmental is the most complex, we can’t use fracking because we have heard it causes all sorts of problems, earthquakes, polluted water aquifers and big noisy lorries on country lanes. We certainly can’t use nuclear as we all know the damage lasts for thousands of years, so we just have to hope the wind keeps blowing and the sun keeps shining and these nice countries we will be importing gas from; Russia, North Africa and Qatar keep being friendly and keep sending cheap supplies.

The pragmatic option is slightly less complex, even by conservative estimates we have enough unconventional fossil fuel in the UK to keep us energy secure for the next 20 years, the period most experts see as the most troublesome. Yes extracting these fuels will involve fracking and all the horrid things this methodology does to the countryside but the alternatives are potentially disastrous, because sadly oil and gas tends to be most plentiful in the more unstable parts of the planet.

We have said this before and will say it again, fracking in the UK will not be the cavalier free for all cowboy fest it is supposed to be in the US. It will be properly regulated, properly managed and will use all the techniques we have been using in the UK for 40 years to mitigate short term construction damage and long term aesthetic damage. Remember the UK countryside has thousands of oil and gas installations and they are a lot less obvious than wind turbines.

The extraction of onshore fuels in the UK will not deliver cheap energy, not if it is done properly, it will however deliver secure energy and as an added bonus will create jobs inject money into the economy and once again show the rest of the world what the UK can do and export the skills accordingly.

Getting Ready for Shale – The UK Way

A new report on the development of UK unconventional gas (in this case shale gas, by Ernst & Young Global) has hit the headlines, and with industry required to develop 4,000 wellheads over the next 20 years why wouldn’t it?

The headlines are impressive, if perhaps exaggerated: “£33 billion and over 64,000 jobs”. But the message is unequivocal: Britain needs energy security; we need the gas; North Sea supply is running down and unconventional gas is our alternative; so get ready for it.

The EY report lists many supply chain issues, none of which are particularly difficult. We’ve had 40+ years of getting our heads round the oil & gas industry, so with a little encouragement and  bit of cash we’ll soon deliver.

However, to our minds the report misses one key aspect on the positive side of the search for and delivery of unconventional gas: an aspect that will help dispel the doubters, smooth the planning, construction and production of wells, and could provide the UK with an external income for decades to come.

How many people are aware of the fact that there are over 2000 nodding donkeys, well sites and above ground gas installations currently in the UK countryside today? Unless you walk your dog by one you’ll be blissfully unaware that these vital components of the onshore oil and gas technology (which help heat your, water, house and food) are practically invisible.

In 40+ years of oil and gas production the UK has become good at designing, building then hiding these things away. That process will be repeated with unconventional gas sites. Even the construction work can be done with very little disruption to the local environment.

We think: if we’re going to start the exploration of unconventional gas in earnest we should be ready to do it properly, show the people and the world what we can do, then export the engineering capability (like we used to do).

So Good The Cows Want It Back.

gas pipeline

By the end of 2015, 30,000 homes could be heated by biomethane, after eight biomethane projects committed to the Green Gas Certification Scheme (GGCS) following a government incentive.

 

Biomethane, also known as green gas, can be produced from a number of sources including biogas from anaerobic digestion, landfill gas and synthetic gas from the gasification of biomass. All of these gases can be converted to biomethane by removing the CO2.  – http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/

Chemically speaking biomethane is identical to natural gas. Natural gas is taken from the ground and is made of very old organic matter. Biomethane is made from “fresh” sources, such as manure, sewage, dead animals and plants, ect.

Why Produce Biomethane?

  • Its production creates jobs
  • Is sustainable
  • Would reduce the amount of harmful gasses released into the atmosphere.

 

What does the future hold?

As we move forward we should expect to see the increase of different methods of energy production. We will undoubtedly start leaning towards alternative energy for transport and home use. It makes sense to spread the energy load through as many different channels as possible, don’t be surprised to see big pushes in these areas.

The New American (Gas) Revolution Gathers Pace

“The shale gas revolution, which has already transformed the United States and Louisiana into manufacturing powers, will vastly alter the world’s energy landscape by 2035, a BP executive said Tuesday.

Shale production will help make the United States a net exporter of natural gas in 2018, with exports growing to 10.6 billion cubic feet per day by 2035, said Mark Finley, general manager, global energy markets and U.S. economics, for BP.

Increases in U.S. oil production the past two years were among the largest in history. ‘The numbers here are staggering,’ Finley said.

Last year’s increase was the fourth-largest ever worldwide. Only Saudi Arabia has ever increased production by more.” – theadvocate.com

Over 63,000 shale gas and shale oil (tight oil) wells in the U.S. were analyzed in the effort to produce the map below. Mouse over any well to find production data on both the well and the play as a whole, or type in a location to see what wells are nearby. View full screen map here.

America’s dramatic progress with shale has inevitably captured the attention of Canada, Europe, Australia and Asia, who will all follow suit in some way. Some already have. Geopolitically, recent troubles suggest the possibility that shale could be a key resource to counter Russia’s control of Europe’s energy supply. All big news.

We think: the shale boom could provide the world with energy for many years to come, while creating jobs and opportunities, but perhaps at a cost. By exploiting shale on a massive scale, America is knowingly exchanging a known short-term risk to energy security for an unknown long-term risk to water security. Is it a good bet? It’s impossible to say: no one really knows the odds yet. As the vernacular poet Don Rumsfeld once said, there are known unknowns. But it’s a necessary bet. America has no choice but to exploit shale and make a play for energy independence.

Europe Under the Paw

“Poland’s prime minister said on Monday he would ask Chancellor Angela Merkel to work to reduce German and European dependence on Russian gas to avert ‘potential aggressive steps by Russia in the future’.

Merkel will visit Poland on Wednesday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, where Russia has effectively taken control of the southern Crimean peninsula. Events there have highlighted European reliance on Russian oil and gas.

Ukraine is a major gas transit nation for supplies from Russia to the European Union (EU), which relies on Russia for over a quarter of its gas.” – Reuters

We think: as conflict brews, Europe is increasingly restless. 30% of Europe’s oil & gas is imported from Russia. If the current situation escalates, then Russia has the power to make things very difficult for Europe.  Of course this hasn’t come about by accident. Despite his former Communist résumé, Putin perfectly understands the nature of markets.

“We will not be able to efficiently fend off potential aggressive steps by Russia in the future, if so many European countries are dependent on Russian gas deliveries or wade into such dependence.” – Donald Tusk

Santos’ gas game shattered by a U-bomb

Tristan Edis writes in the Climate Spectator:

“It was the last thing that Santos needed after receiving a series of bad reviews from stock market analysts about its failure to grow its reserves of gas.

Last Saturday, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the NSW EPA had fined Santos because extracted waste water from its coal seam gas drilling in the Pilliga Forest, near Narrabri, had contaminated an aquifer.

But what leaked into the aquifer generates the kind of fear and concern among the community that cannot be calmed by rational discussion or a range of engineering safeguards and expert reassurances. The leak included uranium, at levels about 20 times above the level of Australian drinking water guidelines for human health. Of course, it wasn’t the only nasty element in the water with lead, arsenic, and barium also present. These are all incredibly toxic, but uranium holds a special place in the human psyche due to its association with the atom bomb.”

We think: the possible contamination of aquifers is the most common form of attack on the sustainability of unconventional gas. Santos has done itself and the industry no favours here. In Australia the regulator has teeth.

Natural Gas for Power Generation: The Generator’s Perspective

“As 2014 progresses, US utilities are focusing more and more on natural gas. Coal plant owners have announced 54,742 MW of coal capacity will be shut down by 2025. On top of this, over 60% of planned generation additions between 2012 and 2040 will be fuelled by natural gas.”

That’s the view of FC Gas Intelligence. You can download their 12 page report here. Registration’s required but it’s an excellent read.

We think: the United States’ determined play for energy self-sufficiency based on natural gas will be the big story in the global energy market over the next 20 years.