Huge Week for Shale in the News

When the biggest story of the week is whether the press will be able to produce a picture of a vice presidential candidate without a shirt on, I think that’s when you can officially say you’re dealing with a pretty slow week of news.

But here on the shale beat, last week couldn’t have been much hotter – starting with the announcement of new data on GHG emissions in the U.S. (thanks to shale, lowest they’ve been since 1992) and ending up with a string of great hits spotlighting the jobs and opportunity that natural gas development is delivering for communities all across the country. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the highlights:

  • Bakken’s Bismarck tops list of cities where job market is thriving. “While July’s jobs report was more-or-less better than expectations, the nation’s unemployment remains at a stubbornly high 8.3 percent. But the job market isn’t bad everywhere in the country. … The top two cities in our list are in North Dakota, the epicenter of what can only be described as an oil “gold rush” the past few years, and several cities on our list are in Oklahoma or Texas, a traditional center of the nation’s energy economy.” (NBC News, 8/13/2012)


  • MIT’s Jack Deutch on the US natural gas resurgence that ‘will transform the world. “North America’s massive resources are going to shift market power away from OPEC and Russia and to consuming nations. …A United States hopelessly dependent on imported oil and natural gas is a thing of the past. Most energy experts now project that North America will have the capacity to be a net exporter of oil and natural gas by the end of this decade.” (Wall Street Journal, MIT’s Jack Deutch, 8/14/2012)


  • West Texas sees rebirth of energy sector thanks to hydraulic fracturing. “As anyone who has tried to rent a house, navigate traffic or lease drilling equipment around here knows, the good times are rolling again. A strong demand for oil coupled with refined hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques are tapping long untouchable, deep reserves. What began a decade ago as a modest revival now is a full-fledged boom. … Sales tax income for Midland went from $13.4 million in fiscal year 2001 to $29.4 million in fiscal year 2011. So much money is flowing in that the city’s reserve fund is now equal to about half its general fund, double what it used to be.” (Houston Chronicle, 8/12/2012)


  • U.S. State Dept.’s Carlos Pascual of role of natural gas in changing geopolitics. “Record production out of U.S. shale gas fields has driven down prices, resurrecting the petrochemical sector and replacing coal to cut emissions at power plants. The United States could out produce Russia by 2017.  If U.S. drilling technology can help replicate the boom in other countries, say Pascual and outside observers of the Obama administration’s policy, Russia and the oil and gas oligarchs in the Middle East will find it harder to dictate the terms of energy contracts and be outsize political forces.” (E&E News, sub req’d, 8/13/12)


  • CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low thanks to natural gas. In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal. (Associated Press, 8/17/12)


  • Drilling Technology Crushing Natural Gas, Oil Reserves Assumptions. “How much more oomph can new drilling technology bring to the U.S. unconventional revolution? The United States likely will add 11 Bcf/d of natural gas to its reserves this year at total finding, development and completion costs under $3.00/Mcf, while a review of 45,000 unconventional oil wells is finding ‘tremendous’ growth in oil reserves, preliminary IHS Inc. data indicate. …The positive impact on the jobs market and state coffers hasn’t been lost in the debate, but Stark said no one’s talked about the impact to future gross domestic product (GDP) from not having to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from foreign sources. ‘We’ve offset 9 Bcf/d from projected LNG imports,’ he told the audience. “That’s not trivial. That’s almost $30 billion a year in GDP to the U.S. that wouldn’t have been here otherwise. We would have had money flowing out of the country.” (NGI’s Shale Daily, sub req’d,  8/15/2012)


  • Daily Markets graphs the enormous growth and potential of the Bakken shale. As a direct result of fracking unconventional shale oil in the Bakken, North Dakota went from the fifth-largest oil producing state in 2007 to the second-largest oil producing state this year, after surpassing Oklahoma in 2008, and then both California and Alaska this year.  It’s amazing how just one oil field in western North Dakota and eastern Montana has transformed the energy landscape of North America. (Daily Markets, 8/15/2012)


  • Shale production could spur petrochemical renaissance. “Natural gas production from shale formations is spurring a boom in the US petrochemical industry, a panel told a Pittsburgh audience this week. ‘Six or seven years ago, it was about the death of the petrochemical industry in North America because oil was getting cheaper and gas was getting expensive. You’re starting to see that change,’ Bob Snyder, general manager of NOVA Chemicals said at Energy Inc, a conference hosted by the Pittsburgh Business Times all-day Tuesday.(Gas Business Briefing, sub req’d, 8/16/2012)
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