New Fed. Govt. Report Highlights Hydrofracutring’s Postitive Energy Security, Environmental Impact

Yesterday, the Energy Information Administration, an independent arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, released its Annual Energy Outlook anaylsis. Key findings? “Significant update of the technically recoverable U.S. shale gas resources, more than doubling the volume of shale gas resources assumed in” last year’s report. How’s this possible? Hydraulic fracturing, a 60 year-old oil and natural gas stimulation technology, coupled with advacnements in horitzontal drilling techniques.

Here are just a few highlights from the news cycle regarding the se preliminary findings:

  • Shale-Gas Output May Double by 2035, Reducing Energy Imports, US Says: This year’s outlook more than doubles the estimate of U.S. technically recoverable reserves of natural gas from shale, a type of sedimentary rock, to 827 trillion cubic feet from 347 trillion cubic feet. New technologies that let natural-gas producers drill horizontally and fracture the rock formations with injections of water, sand and chemicals account for the increase, Newell said. Last year’s long-term outlook predicted annual shale-gas production would rise to 6 trillion cubic feet by 2035, Newell said. The updated forecast is 12 trillion cubic feet, he said. (Bloomberg, 12/16/10)
  • DOE sees rapid growth in natural gas: The Energy Department foresees a rapid growth in natural gas production over the next 25 years, according to a report from its statistical arm Thursday. … The greatest chunk of that should come from shale gas, which has already increased production 14-fold over the last decade. (Politico, 12/16/10)
  • EIA projects huge growth in U.S. shale: New information gleaned from drilling activity in the United States reveals shale gas reserves are about twice as abundant as previously thought, the EIA said. The U.S. Energy Information Agency said in its 2011 outlook that it projects technically recoverable unproven shale gas reserves sit at 827 trillion cubic feet, 474 trillion cf larger than the previous year’s outlook. … “Our reference case projection shows the growing importance of natural gas from domestic shale gas resources in meeting U.S. energy demand and lowering natural gas prices,” said EIA Administrator Richard Newell in a statement. (UPI, 12/17/10)

But despite the fact that fracturing and expanded shale gas production is putting the United States on stronger economic footing and helping to slash greenhouse gas emissions, some in Washington remain committed to thwarting this positive progess, and the tens of thousands of good-paying jobs being created through this production. And here’s what academics and editorial pages are saying about responsible shale gas production enabled by tightly-regulated, environmentally proven fracturing technologies:

  • EPA’s costly rules will cost jobs and setback nation’s economic recovery: Private industry needs the freedom to innovate and discover new technologies. Over the past five years, oil and natural gas companies have developed safe and efficient techniques to drill through shale. Through a combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, companies can now reach enormous deposits of natural gas in Appalachia, Texas, Louisiana and other regions of the country. And some of the same techniques are now being used to access large deposits of oil in western North Dakota. (Lexington Herald-Leader Op-Ed, 12/17/10)
  • The Madness of New York. Shale drilling relies on hydraulic fracturing, the process of blasting a solution that is 99% water and sand (less than 1% chemicals) into rock to release gas deposits. Fracking has been commercially viable since 1949 and is responsible for 30% of domestic oil and gas production. The recent advances in shale gas have come from combining fracking with “horizontal” drilling, which permits wells to move laterally under the surface. Horizontal fracking lets the industry get much more energy out of one well. The industry uses steel casing and cement to prevent fracking fluid from polluting wells and underground reservoirs. … While energy exploration is never risk-free, the Ground Water Council hasn’t found a single documented case of fracking having polluted local ground water. (Wall Street Journal, Editorial, 12/16/10)
  • Energy independence remains elusive goal?: Tom Ridge spoke last week at a University of Tulsa energy forum. He made natural gas the grand marshal of the parade. The former PA governor is driving a float in the parade through his involvement with the Marcellus Shale, the exciting but controversial source of natural gas in his home state. … Less dependence means less leverage by Mideast bullies. Less dependence on foreign oil means more dependence on American natural gas. President Obama and the Democratic Congress have marched away from independence with offshore drilling bans and hydraulic fracturing probes. Independence still isn’t enshrined in a national energy policy. (The Oklahoman Editorial, 12/15/10)
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