Appalachian Basin

Tony the Tiger Breaks Out the Lions in PSU Presentation

Last evening, Dr. Tony Ingraffea gave a presentation entitled Development of Natural Gas from Shales:  Some Myths and Realities at Penn State University. The theme of the night for Dr. Ingraffea was mythology vs. “truth.” However, the supposed “truths” Ingraffea delivered were largely in the form of poor jokes and empty threats to the industry as the good professor repeated ad nauseam that he once did consulting work for Schlumberger (pronounced slum-burr-jay), a Paris-based service company. His idea of conveying the “truth” included calling the highly regarded American Natural Gas Association (ANGA) “dirty liars” and challenging EID’s own Chris Tucker to an arm wrestling match (tough to blame Tony for being mad — Chris debunked his work pretty good a couple weeks back).  The presentation was, in a word, juvenile, as Tony the arm wrestler, who loves to remind everyone he once played football, used silly props to launch attacks on the industry, such as this one:


Slide from Ingraffea presentation

This was no scientific presentation.  Rather, it was political theater by an Park Foundation-funded activist using his Cornell credentials as a rock expert to comment on everything from the law to trucking impacts. Despite the fact hydraulic fracturing is a 60-year-old proven technology, the professor said everything is different now because it is being combined with horizontal drilling, leaving the false impression that hydraulic fracturing has only come onto the scene in the last decade or so.  It’s the kind of subtlety in which Ingraffea specializes – combining a few carefully articulated facts to leave the listener with a conclusion the speaker never actually puts on record.

Ingraffea also implied Pennsylvania operators are not recycling anywhere near the amount of hydraulic fracturing fluids they claim, indicating he feels it is, at best , no more than 38%, but offered no real data to support thatview.  He made little attempt to explain the recycling process or give his attendees an understanding of where it is headed – toward 100%, which is where industry expects it to be by year’s end.

The professor did treat the issue of gas migration in a more balanced way, openly suggesting that the notion that hydraulic fracturing causes any of that is highly unlikely — a view reinforced, incidentally, by that Duke study that got so much coverage this week. Nonetheless, he neglected to mention anything about drilling for water , which has the potential to pierce subsurface methane deposits and is not regulated with respect to casing procedures.

Perhaps the most egregious part of the professor’s presentation (beyond his absurd arm wrestling challenges) was his repeat of the now destroyed hypothesis of his Cornell colleague Robert Howarth that natural gas is more dangerous than coal and oil due to global warming impacts (which seems to be one of his real concerns and where he clearly steps outside his area of expertise).

Incidentally, this presentation was the first time EID Marcellus reported on a meeting up to the minute using Twitter and Facebook.  If, in the future, you can’t make it to a presentation (or in this case stage show/wrestling exhibition) please show your support by following us on Twitter and Facebook. As always feel free to email me at or post a comment.


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