Re: [asa] vast new gas supplies

From: David Clounch <>
Date: Mon Dec 07 2009 - 06:36:36 EST

I think of it in terms of what is available. When will it be depleted and
when will that sub-industry collapse, leaving humanity without energy? Of
course there will be economic collapse long before actual depletion.
Unless there are vast new sources of uranium we don't yet know about I don't
see a long term answer to energy supply.

This leaves us with:

Solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, hydroelectric. Possibly fusion. Possibly
extra-terrestrial sources.

I don't think GW is the real issue. I think peak energy is the real issue.
It is that crisis which we must survive.

On Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 2:33 AM, Don Winterstein <>wrote:

> Dave,
> I follow this stuff only at a distance, but perhaps I can make useful
> comments to guide a few thoughts about the respective peaks. If you want
> someone who follows this stuff closely, contact Glenn Morton at
> *Peak oil*: On July 9, 2009, Burgy posted a note to this list saying peak
> oil had occurred July 11, 2008. Production has dropped since then and
> probably has not risen to its previous peak. His note contained a forwarded
> discussion from Post Carbon Institute that presented their reasoning.
> However, there are several reasons why this date may not mark the ultimate
> peak, one of which is the current recession. Another possible reason
> is that the Saudis recognized prior to that date that oil was not really
> selling at the prevailing very high prices; hence they may have cut back
> their own production or at least changed their minds about increasing it,
> thus diminishing production in advance of the recession.
> In response to Burgy's note I mentioned that both Iraq and Iran very likely
> have the potential (but maybe not the will or suitable political
> environment) to raise world production beyond its former peak. A recent
> large discovery in Brazil has some people saying Brazil may also become
> a significant world-class contributor ("Saudi Arabia of the Western
> Hemisphere").
> About 5 years ago Chevron and Exxon corporate managers predicted peak oil
> in more like 2020 or 2030.
> *Peak nuclear:* Assuming we leave out breeder reactors, a most relevant
> consideration is the price of uranium. If other sources of clean energy
> don't live up to their promise, uranium may fetch a very high price. If it
> does, the search for it will greatly intensify. Any peak will strongly
> depend on how successful further exploration is, and on that I
> can't intelligently speculate.
> *Peak gas:* Website
> shows
> gas production does not seem to follow a curve like the famous oil
> production curve of M. King Hubbert--which has a well-defined peak, but
> instead shows an almost monotonic increase. I suspect the
> discovery that abundant gas is available from shale will cause this curve
> to keep increasing for a long time; but this will happen only if the price
> of gas (think demand) remains high enough to drive increases in production.
> Ultimately there should be a curve for gas that looks similar to the Hubbert
> curve for oil, but if so, its peak looks to be a long way off. That could
> change if demand surges and gas is produced at much higher rates.
> *Peak coal:* Richard Heinberg, who's authored a book that covers this
> topic (*Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis*), says peak
> coal is less than two decades away. I haven't read it and don't know his
> assumptions. The world has stupendous quantities of coal, but much of it
> will not be economic to produce. Cap and trade may greatly diminish demand
> for coal and therby accelerate the date of peak production. (Glenn Morton
> has better-informed thoughts on this.)
> These peaks depend strongly on economic conditions, possibilities of major
> new discoveries, exploitation of currently under-exploited reserves (e.g.,
> Iran & Iraq), new technology, and government regulations. With advances
> like the discovery that abundant gas is available from shale, peak oil may
> lose much of its fearsomeness. If the world is successful in quickly
> ramping up solar, wind, or *ethanol from cellulose* technologies, peaks of
> all kinds of non-renewable energy resources may become much less important.
> But that's a big "if."
> Don
> *Sent:* Thursday, July 09, 2009 9:01 AM
> *Subject:* [asa] Peak Oil day was July 11. 2008
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* David Clounch <>
> *To:* Don Winterstein <>
> *Cc:* asa <>
> *Sent:* Saturday, December 05, 2009 2:20 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] vast new gas supplies
> Don,
> I have a question. If we consider peak oil, peak nuclear, peak gas, and
> peak coal, what are the projected dates for each of these?
> I am assuming peak nuclear is a function of available uranium ore. So
> unless we have a robust breeder reactor program, there will be a peak.
> Thanks,
> Dave C
> On Sun, Dec 6, 2009 at 5:37 AM, Don Winterstein <>wrote:
>> I've finally been able to speak with someone who's directly involved
>> with gas production from shales. He's not a "recognized authority" on the
>> subject, but previous interactions have taught me he keeps closely in touch
>> with industry trends, and his assessments are generally reliable. So I'll
>> share.
>> First, big oil is getting involved in this play (contrary
>> to my speculations below). He tells me Exxon is pursuing rights in Germany,
>> and Chevron is trying to get up to speed in the US. But small companies
>> were indeed the ones that got the ball rolling.
>> Second, with gas prices as high as they were initially, wells were
>> productive enough that companies were able to cover their costs and start
>> profiting after only a year. However, they were victims of their own
>> success: The abundance of the gas they produced caused prices to plummet,
>> so the wells are no longer so profitable. But the (energy out)/(energy in)
>> ratio promises to be considerably greater than 1.0 for most wells.
>> Longer term this shale gas production should have major environmental
>> benefits. As the Business Week article pointed out, some power generation
>> in the US has already switched from coal to gas because of the new abundance
>> and low prices. My contact thinks the major environmental benefits will
>> come in China, where some proposed coal power plants may now be able to
>> switch over to gas.
>> In context of the energy catastrophy that Glenn Morton and others have
>> predicted will follow peak oil, the ability to produce abundant gas from
>> shale should go a long way towards letting economies down softly rather than
>> catastrophically.
>> Don
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> *From:* Don Winterstein <>
>> *To:* John Burgeson (ASA member) <>
>> *Cc:* asa <>
>> *Sent:* Wednesday, November 18, 2009 11:57 PM
>> *Subject:* Re: [asa] vast new gas supplies
>> Speaking on the basis of my industry experience (but otherwise out of
>> ignorance), I believe big oil will steer clear of these shale plays, because
>> their overhead is too high for the high level of hassle and relatively small
>> production likely from individual shale wells. I visualize many small
>> companies drilling thousands of wells primarily to feed local utilities.
>> How much they can produce and how fast will depend strongly on (among
>> several other things) the number of wells drilled. That number in
>> principle can be very large for this kind of play.
>> Since government presumably is not subsidizing this production (as it
>> subsidizes ethanol from corn, for example), the fact that companies are
>> pursuing this play is good circumstantial evidence that returns exceed
>> costs, where costs include, besides energy input, company overhead, land
>> leasing, royalties, taxes and no doubt several other things. There's also
>> possible benefit from turning one kind of energy into a more useful kind.
>> An important facet of gas from shale is that it opens the possibility that
>> many areas of the country formerly without hydrocarbon production may now be
>> able to get their energy from local wells.
>> Don
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> *From:* John Burgeson (ASA member) <>
>> *To:* Don Winterstein <>
>> *Cc:* asa <>
>> *Sent:* Wednesday, November 18, 2009 9:56 AM
>> *Subject:* Re: [asa] vast new gas supplies
>> Glenn and I (and others) have had some dialog on this, although not
>> recently.
>> The gut issues are twofold:
>> 1. How fast can these supplies be drawn? Analogy -- if you have
>> $10,000,000 in the bank, but can only withdraw $10 a day, you are not
>> "rich."
>> 2. How much energy does it take to extract gas energy? If it takes 1.1
>> BTU of energy to extract 1.0 BTU, that is not a good deal.
>> I don't pretend to have the answers to this -- just pointing out two
>> of the questions that must be asked.
>> On 11/18/09, Don Winterstein <> wrote:
>> > The Colorado School of Mines report is at
>> >
>> >.
>> > This report tells me (between the lines) that some of these huge
>> claimed
>> > reserves are somewhat more speculative--read "possibly impractical or
>> > inaccessible"--than I thought.
>> >
>> > Don
>> >
>> > ----- Original Message -----
>> > From: Don Winterstein<<>
>> >
>> > To: asa< <>>
>> > Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 9:37 PM
>> > Subject: [asa] vast new gas supplies
>> >
>> >
>> > New applications of old technology have dramatically raised estimates
>> of
>> > producible US gas supplies. According to Business Week (10/19/09), a
>> > Colorado School of Mines report claims US reserves may be as high as
>> 1800
>> > TCF (trillion cubic feet), equivalent to 320 billion barrels of oil, or
>> more
>> > than Saudi Arabia's known reserves. Most of this amount at this point
>> > exists only as speculation, but the reality is that known producible
>> > reserves have gone up 39% in the past two years--as the price of gas has
>> > plummeted.
>> >
>> > Oil companies have known for decades that huge quantities of methane
>> > existed in US sedimentary rock, and they've tried mostly in vain to
>> produce
>> > it economically. Much of the earlier effort attempted to extract gas
>> from
>> > tight (relatively impermeable) sandstones. The new reserves instead are
>> in
>> > shale, a kind of rock seldom thought to make good reservoirs.
>> Production
>> > involves a combination of two old technologies, drilling wells
>> horizontally
>> > and then hydraulically fracturing the rock. Hydraulic fracturing
>> involves
>> > pumping fluids and proppants into wells at high enough pressures to
>> crack
>> > the rock in situ. The proppants, which are hard particles carried into
>> > formations by the fluids, get wedged in cracks and hold them open to
>> give a
>> > lasting increase in permeability.
>> >
>> > Use of this technology is not limited to the US but should be
>> applicable
>> > to many shales worldwide. Shale is the most common kind of sedimentary
>> > rock, and much of it is known to contain methane.
>> >
>> > Don
>> >
>> >
>> --
>> Burgy

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Received on Mon Dec 7 06:37:15 2009

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