The Coming Energy Abundance

How new technology can lower prices and reshape the global economy

As politicians, consumers, and manufacturers fret over the price of oil, there's good news on the energy front: Natural gas production is booming from "huge shale beds found throughout North America," reports The New York Times. The improving technology of underground horizontal drilling and fracturing has opened up trillions of cubic feet of gas that had formerly been thought unobtainable. And natural gas can also be used to run automobiles (after about $2,000 in conversion costs). These and other alternative methods of lowering fuel prices could dramatically reshape not only energy policy but the global economy.

The same report quotes an industry study estimating 842 trillion cubic feet (40 years supply) as now accessible. Drillable quantities exist in 23 states, much of it relatively close to existing pipelines. The Times describes one field in Texas, the Barnett, where shale technology was first developed. Production has gone up tenfold since 2001 and it alone now produces 7 percent of the nation's gas supplies. A giant new field has been found in Pennsylvania in the energy-hungry Northeast. New York and Michigan also have large reserves. This year, a 9 percent increase in U.S. production has already brought about a 40 percent decline in the price since July.

Drilling into coal beds provides another very promising source of gas. Forbes recently described how this technology already accounts for nearly 10 percent of all U.S. gas production. It also reported on research into the use of methane hydrates, yet another potentially fabulous new source of gas in shallow, colder coastal waters. Natural gas is the fastest, cleanest and lowest capital cost way to generate electricity, compared to coal or nuclear. It would make competition in electricity production more viable and hence bring down prices.

Gas-to-electricity is not the only promising conversion. The Germans fought World War II mainly with oil produced from coal. South Africa, when under trade sanctions, produced 70 percent of its liquid fuel needs from coal. Billions of tons of coal are easily accessible in the United States. This is an area where Washington might spend sensible money instead of subsidizing will-o'-the-wisp wind power, or, worse, using heavily subsidized corn-based ethanol, which raises food prices and costs more in energy and subsidies to convert to gasoline than it produces.

The Washington Times recently described how coal conversion works, estimating the cost equivalent at $1.85 per gallon using coal priced at $30 per ton. The conversion rate is 1.25 barrels of oil per ton of coal. "Coal can produce gasoline, diesel and kerosene directly and its use in motor vehicles does not require addition of costly technologies of reforming or cracking," reports the article. The conversion process is cleaner than burning coal. Also it uses low grade, cheap coal and produces electricity as a byproduct. Other industry estimates place the cost of conversion as equal to $30-40 per barrel oil. See The Energy Blog for what is now generally known about the technology and costs.

An interesting facet of the 40 percent decline in natural gas prices is how the major media still parrots the extreme environmentalists' line that offshore drilling won't bring major drops in oil prices. A recent and representative U.S. News article quotes a Department of Energy report that "the impact [of offshore drilling] on global oil prices would be insignificant." That view, constantly repeated by anti-drilling interests, is actually from 2007 when oil prices were around $70 per barrel. Mainly, however, it is based upon the current time frame of snail-pace leasing and unending lawsuits (without mentioning them as a cause of delay). The fact is that ending the prohibition on offshore drilling, along with new laws to allow faster permitting and special courts to speed up hearing environmental suits, would have an immediate impact upon oil prices. That's because current prices are based on future anticipation. The same goes for ANWR in Alaska. The world oil shortage was caused by political reasons, not geological ones.

Extreme environmentalists will not be happy with the news about shale. They will try to block production just as they do with offshore oil drilling and nuclear electric power. Their mindset is that all new energy use contributes to global warming, so they don't want production of cheap energy. Many commercial interests support them. For example, farmers producing high cost ethanol don't want to see gasoline costs coming down. Beach front owners don't want to see oil platforms "polluting" their ocean views. Foreign oil producers want to see prices stay high. The shale fracturing does use much water and, already, there are questions about aquifers and lawsuits against drillers trying to control their access to water. Perhaps, in populated areas, new standards will be needed for "frac water" used in drilling.

Shale gas and coal deposits similar to those in the U.S. exist all over the world. Europeans are now searching for them to ease their dependence upon Russian gas. China is building the largest coal-liquefaction plant in the world. Nations with the ability to harvest these resources could become free of their dependence upon a few world oil exporters. Low energy costs could propel the world's economy back to faster growth and prosperity.

Jon Basil Utley is associate publisher of The American Conservative. He was a foreign correspondent for Knight Ridder newspapers and former associate editor of The Times of the Americas. For 17 years, he was a commentator for the Voice of America. In the 1980s, he owned and operated a small oil drilling partnership in Pennsylvania.

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  • Gilbert Martin||

    So where is the link to the article?

  • ||

    It's a conspiracy by Big Oil to keep us using fossil fuels. They don't want us to read Utley's article.

  • TallDave||

    Wow, it's as though higher prices somehow lead to more production!

    Also, let me congratulate the unnamed Reason author for his forward-thinking concept of writing a post that absolves me of the need to RTFA.

  • ||

    Let's comment on the article as if we had read it. Should be more fun and will probably end up the same anyway.

    Uh...go nuclear!

  • Joel||

    Thanks, guys. I was afraid somehow it was just me.

  • Joel||

    Damned Peak Oil conspiracy freaks! They write these hysterical nonexistent articles, but never offer any proof at all! Screw'em all, I'm gonna go drill offshore.

  • ||

    Duh... you have to donate if you want to read the article.

  • ||

    I would think with the price of oil they could afford some paint and a bit of sod so that pump isn't such a blight on west texas.

  • ||

    I just built one of those perpetual motion machines mentioned in the article, and now my cat is trapped in it. How do I stop it to get Mr. Wiskers out?

  • ||

    Jon Basil Utley looks at emerging energy technologies and how they could lower prices and propel the world's economy back to faster growth and prosperity.

    I'm predispose to look favorably on that sort of argument. But er, has Jon looked outside the window lately?

  • Homer Simpson||

    Goddammit Matt! In this blog, we obey the laws of thermodynamics.

  • ||

    I would think with the price of oil they could afford some paint and a bit of sod so that pump isn't such a blight on west texas.

    Toxic rust-proof paint and nitrate run off from sod?

    Why do you hate your Mother Earth, brotherben... She is the LifeGiver!

  • ||

    Suge, that was really gaia dude

  • ||

    Gaia, Mother Earth, the Mud 'Gina... it is all the same.

  • Joel||

    Hey, look! An article!

    eh...probably boring, anyway.

  • kinnath||

    So oil is up $25 a barrel in one day as a result of the $700 Billion bailout.

    We are so very, very fucked at this point.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I have no doubt that a lot of what is mentioned in the article is ecomonically viable, physically doable and would indeed help improve the economy. High engery costs serve as a tax on consumers and businesses.

    But none of that matters to the leftists and assorted environmental wackos perpetually opposed to new energy. For them , all this stuff is about nothing more than a desire to control the lives of others and to "punish" those whose lifestyles they despise. We have sinned against "Gaia" and must all do penance.

    They should all be exported to a large uninhabited area of the Australian outback and fenced in there to fend for themselves without any food water or man made energy source and left to fend for themselves. Then they can truly get "back to nature" and leave the rest of us the hell alone.

  • ||

    No one read the article! We must maintain our ignorance. Also, Mr. Whiskers is dead, Matt. He looked like the first science officer in Star Trek: The Motion Picture after that transporter malfunction. Gross.

  • ||

    Let's comment on the article as if we had read it.

    So, its business as usual on this post?

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    I understand that that mangled science officer is getting his own spin-off: "Star Trek: That Science Officer Dude Who Was Mangled in that Transporter Accident. STTSODWWMTA has been pitched as a kind of Star Trek meets Firefly.

  • ||

    I get a catalog chock-full of home green supplies 'n' stuff, that is selling, among other things, home biodiesel generators and everything you need for home solar.

    I ran the numbers, and it looks like the payback on home solar right now is around 20 years. Not there yet, in other words.

  • ||

    How long before the weakening of the dollar results in oil trading being done in Euros?

  • ||

    Let's comment on the article as if we had read it. Should be more fun and will probably end up the same anyway.

    Uh...go nuclear!


    What article? RingTFA is for the timid.

    Fuck that nuclear shit! Geothermal is the way of the fiture. That or amphetamine dosed hamsters with exercise wheels connected to generators.

  • Kolohe||

    (after about $2,000 in conversion costs).

    The cite is for a 1990 link that goes to a 1989 study.

    A better estimate for *conversions* is on the order of $15K - $25K. (Now it does seem like a lot of that cost is because EPA cert standards must be applied for every single model of engine - which apparently costs about $200K *per* engine line.

    cite from *pro* alt-fuels source.

    But as a larger comment, this is why I don't and won't contribute to the reason foundation as a whole. The magazine is great, the site is even better, but the 'policy wonk' side of the house is simply atrocious.

  • ||

    Extreme environmentalists will not be happy with the news about shale. They will try to block production just as they do with offshore oil drilling and nuclear electric power. Their mindset is that all new energy use contributes to global warming, so they don't want production of cheap energy.

    Actually, their mindset is that energy (cheap or otherwise) promotes prosperity, which is anathema to their radical environmental ideas (i.e. man is bad, an Earth without man is good).

    This is no exaggeration (I wish it was). Greenpeace's objection on the usage of CO2 scrubbers is one example of how environmental organizations can give a rat's ass about Global Warming - what they really after is reducing man's footprint on the Earth, on the misanthropic idea that people should not be allowed to live in prosperity (except environmentalists, of course! I mean, they SHOULD be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor, no?). Another example is the irrational objections to the use of nuclear fission, even when European countries have used it without incidents for years.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "I ran the numbers, and it looks like the payback on home solar right now is around 20 years. Not there yet, in other words."

    You'll have to offset that "green" saving with the additional costs imposed by new environmental wacko regulations - like catalytic converters on lawn mowers and other small engine power equipment.

    You will also need to spring for a chiropracter because your new gas powered weed-whacker will weigh 50 pounds.

  • ||

    I understand that that mangled science officer is getting his own spin-off: "Star Trek: That Science Officer Dude Who Was Mangled in that Transporter Accident. STTSODWWMTA has been pitched as a kind of Star Trek meets Firefly

    That's because I pitched it myself! I'm finally hopeful that I'll get one of my shows produced. After they turned me down for Star Trek: The Pornographic Holodeck Generation and Why Being a Producer is Really Just a Dating Service With Impressionable Actresses, I had lost hope.

  • ||

    Damn you, Francisco, I liked the thread better when we were playing by Epi's rules.

    [Kicks pebble]

  • ||

    @Gilbert "If I Only Had A Brain" Martin

    But none of that matters to the leftists and assorted environmental wackos perpetually opposed to new energy.



    ROTFLMAO! Ahh, yes. The Rove campaign strategy ... I remember it well. "Thou shalt accuse thy opponent of that which you, yourself believe, and yea, verily, they shall fall."

    Drill NOW! Drill HERE! Drill a giant hole in my head so all of this leftie/rightie drivel has a way to escape my hurting brain! Yoiks. Thanks for the laugh.

  • ||

    Damn you, Francisco, I liked the thread better when we were playing by Epi's rules.

    Don't let him ruin it for you, Tonio. The rest of us can stay ignorant.

    "Because I cut the brakes! Wildcard, bitches! Yee haw!"

  • Sandy||

    So...oil drilling will make oil prices go down because oil is expensive enough to make the drilling profitable and will remain that way.

    Did Utley make money in Pennsylvania? 'Cuz math is hard.

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    Were you behind the new reality show: Star Trek: The New Reality Show? As I understand it, Klingon and other alien judges will judge a group of red-shirted Starfleet personnel, killing each off until there is a final winner. Who will be killed off on air.

  • the innominate one||

    Extreme environmentalists will not be happy with the news about shale. They will try to block production just as they do with offshore oil drilling and nuclear electric power. Their mindset is that all new energy use contributes to global warming, so they don't want production of cheap energy.

    Interesting article, but would have made a better argument without the pointless strawman. Not all new energy use contributes to global warming, but fossil fuel use does. However, burning methane hydrates is preferable, since methane is a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. If warming occurs, the methane hydrates could release into the atmosphere as is. Better to oxidize them to carbon dioxide.

  • ||

    Klingon and other alien judges will judge a group of red-shirted Starfleet personnel, killing each off until there is a final winner

    No, that was Naga. I told him it should have more chicks in the concept but he just wanted blood.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "ROTFLMAO! Ahh, yes. The Rove campaign strategy ... I remember it well. "Thou shalt accuse thy opponent of that which you, yourself believe, and yea, verily, they shall fall."

    Drill NOW! Drill HERE! Drill a giant hole in my head so all of this leftie/rightie drivel has a way to escape my hurting brain! Yoiks. Thanks for the laugh."

    I'm laughing at your inability to make any coherent point whatsoever. Please do keep it up.

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    Well, they've deviated from Naga's proposal, apparently, because some of the contestants are women. Green women.

  • ||

    Cool! Here ya go:

    You accuse "leftists and environmental wackos" of being "perpetually opposed to new energy" ... as is erroneously done by those who prefer the "old" energy status quo. (My first note about the Rovian strategy ... the one where I'm laughing.)

    "Drill HERE! Drill NOW!" Sound familiar? Hmm. Does that come from the left? Nope.

    The hole in my head to allow comments like yours an easy escape route ... simply a desire for the sweet relief of the absence of your amusing-yet-absurd commentary.

    I'll try not to be so incoherent, if it helps you to think more clearly.

  • ||

    He looked like the first science officer in Star Trek: The Motion Picture after that transporter malfunction. Gross.

    That was commander Sonak. (I guess I geeked out there a bit...)

  • ||

    Damn you, Francisco, I liked the thread better when we were playing by Epi's rules.

    Sorry to disappoint... I guess :P

    Notwithstanding your sarcasm, environmentalists will not accept any technology that promotes prosperity. For instance, if wind energy ever gets to be efficient and viable enough to compete with natural gas or coal, you can bet Greenpeace will be protesting under each windmill - and if solar farms ever become profitable, Friends of the Earth will be there to spray-paint the surfaces of every mirror. You just wait...

  • ||

    That was commander Sonak. (I guess I geeked out there a bit...)

    (gives Francisco an atomic wedgie)

  • ||

    Well, they've deviated from Naga's proposal, apparently, because some of the contestants are women. Green women.

    Jarella?

  • Gilbet Martin||

    "You accuse "leftists and environmental wackos" of being "perpetually opposed to new energy" ... as is erroneously done by those who prefer the "old" energy status quo."

    It's not "erroneous" at all. Drilling in ANWAR and offshore, oil shale, coal to gas conversion, etc. are ALL new sources of energy. Just because it happens to be NEW sources of fossil fuel energy doesn't mean it's not NEW.

    And if you are trying to equate NEW energy with "alternative" energy sources, I don't know who is opposed to them per se. The opposition is to government mandates and tax subsidies and having government try to "pick the winners".

  • ||

    For an organization titled "Reason" it's curious why they keep perpetuating the oil industry myths about ethanol's cost of production. You would think that "truth" would be a factor is analysis.

    Brazilian ethanol is 8x output to input.

    Even mediocre corn-based ethanol is a low-multiple, non-negative integer. The disgraced oil 'study' showing a net loss of energy assumes that a monster tractor is used on a tiny field for a few years and the steel is never recycled. Those are laughable assumption.

    Abolish all energy subsidies and tariffs.

  • the innominate one||

    Gilbet (Gilbert?):

    ANWR would be a new source of oil, true, but oil is an old source of energy.

  • ||

    Wind:

    http://www.awea.org

    Other:

    http://www.nrel.gov

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "ANWR would be a new source of oil, true, but oil is an old source of energy."

    It is a new source of one of the same types of energy we are already using. And there is no legitimate reason not to continue developing new sources of that same type of energy.

  • Urkobold™||

    THE URKOBOLD BELIEVES IN DRILLING GREEN. GREEN WOMEN, THAT IS.

  • the innominate one||

    Urkobold is great! Hail Urkobold!

    Gilbert - then you and whoever are talking past each other.

  • ||

    Boothillfarm,

    Abolish all energy subsidies and tariffs.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, but bear in mind that, if government eliminates all subsidies on energy, then the cost of "alternative" energies will represent their true market value, which is not very good to begin with. Environmentalism needs fascism and direct coercion by the force of the gun in order to establish itself - there is no other way.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Notwithstanding your sarcasm, environmentalists will not accept any technology that promotes prosperity."

    This is true. The prosperity that we have had over the last 100 years or so it due to the relativly cheap (and portable) store of energy that oil and gasoline provide and that other fossil fuels such as coal have enabled electricity production.

    Cheap energy enables more real estate development, more production and consumption of goods and services. That means more mining for copper, iron ore, more roads built, etc.

    If someone perfected controlled nuclear fusion as cheap and limitless source of power tomorrow morning, the greenies would start protesting it tomorrow afternoon.

  • ||

    Wow. Unrelenting. Gilbert, your insight into the greenie, leftie, environmental wacko mind is breathtaking.

  • ||

    Man, I'd love me a home fusion reactor. I'd use it to weather this financial crisis by transmuting other elements into gold.

  • ||

    For an organization titled "Reason"

    And, that's a drink!

  • the innominate one||

    speaking of strawmen...

  • DannyK||

    I was waiting for the part of the article where he talked about how shale and coal actually DIDN'T produce massive amounts of CO2, it was just a conspiracy theory.

    But no, Utley is one of those increasingly rare pundits who still claims global warming is a big hoax, while all the cool kids have moved on to saying it's no big deal, or due to sunspots, or something.

    This isn't only wrong, it's wrong and dated , like a free-market screed that points to China as an example of a stagnant socialist economy.

  • ||

    James Butler | September 22, 2008, 5:59pm | #

    Wow. Unrelenting. Gilbert, your insight into the greenie, leftie, environmental wacko mind is breathtaking.



    James, you are correct. Unfortunately for your position, he is also spot-on.

  • Barack Obama||

    But none of that matters to the leftists and assorted environmental wackos perpetually opposed to new energy. ROTFLMAO! Ahh, yes. The Rove campaign strategy ... I remember it well. "Thou shalt accuse thy opponent of that which you, yourself believe

    The world doesn't need oil wells and nuclear power plants. The only plants we should be building are green! Your energy proposals will make Gaia cry. Can't we get beyond these tired politics of yesterday?

    The generators of tomorrow will be powered by Hope and Change. Now, some of the naysayers and so-called "scientists" will say we can't make electricity with empty rhetoric, but I say Yes We Can!

    ...can someone fix the teleprompter? ...Thanks.

    I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message.

  • Taiwan||

    like a free-market screed that points to China as an example of a stagnant socialist economy.

    Yeah, now they've adopted capitalism and are only 20 years behind us!

  • Woeball Glorming||

    But no, Utley is one of those increasingly rare pundits who still claims global warming is a big hoax, while all the cool kids have moved on to saying it's no big deal, or due to sunspots, or something.

    Do you know what the current UAH global temperature anomaly is? (Hint: it's negative)

  • ||

    Sorry, Kant..zsche ... position, schmition. I'm pretty sure I have not expressed my position on this topic. My comments in this thread merely reflect my amusement with the windbag statements made by those who can predict what the greenie, leftie environmental wackos will do in the potential future. Oh ... does the same talent that allows for leftie-greenie-wacko prognostication allow for my position to be divined? Ahh, yes. That must be it. Carry on, then.

  • ||

    Even mediocre corn-based ethanol is a low-multiple, non-negative integer. The disgraced oil 'study' showing a net loss of energy assumes that a monster tractor is used on a tiny field for a few years and the steel is never recycled. Those are laughable assumption. - boothillfarm

    Corn-based ethanol is a low-multiple non-negative integer? Like 1? It's not as high as 2, is it? Is this from a farming "study"?
    Do we get to count all the energy used and pollution (real pollution plus CO2) created from the economic ectivity required to generate the tax money being redistributed to corn farmers? Or does the extra tax revenue come from the increase in price of corn-based goods? I'm a bit of a skeptic, among other things.

  • ||

    Kolohe - thank you for pointing out just how far off Utley was on his CNG conversion estimate. While conversions are probably prohibitively expensive, it is possible to get an CNG capable vehicle for a more reasonable price. The Honda Civic GX lists for around $25K, and it's otherwise pretty much identical to the $18K Civic LX.

    But that's not the only place Utley's facts were off base. In the next paragraph, he quotes the study as "estimating 842 trillion cubic feet [of natural gas] as now accessible." The NYT article he references actually says that "there could be as much as 842 Tcf of retrievable gas in shales around the country" (emphasis added). According to the study itself, "the maximum reported assessment for shale, according to producer reports . . . is 842 Tcf." Their mean estimate is just 274Tcf. (see p. 14).

    On top of all that, Utley presents the report under the banner of the liberal NYT, instead of quoting the study directly. Maybe that's to obfuscate the fact that the study was bought and paid for by members of the gas industry.

    For a veteran reporter, Utley really needs to get his sh*t together. There is a great deal of legitimacy to Utley's overall thesis, so there's really no excuse for being such an ass with the facts.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Sorry, Kant..zsche ... position, schmition. I'm pretty sure I have not expressed my position on this topic. My comments in this thread merely reflect my amusement with the windbag statements made by those who can predict what the greenie, leftie environmental wackos will do in the potential future. Oh ... does the same talent that allows for leftie-greenie-wacko prognostication allow for my position to be divined? Ahh, yes. That must be it. Carry on, then."

    Translation : he is incapable of anything other than sneering and when he's called on it, he has to punt.

    LOL

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Wow. Unrelenting. Gilbert, your insight into the greenie, leftie, environmental wacko mind is breathtaking."

    Oh and James, the greenies are the ones trying to tell all the rest of us what we MUST do - not the other way around.

    That indeed gives one an insight into their wacko minds.

  • ||

    "This isn't only wrong, it's wrong and dated , like a free-market screed that points to China as an example of a stagnant socialist economy."

    If only the energy Market were 'Free'. Fossil energy receives an order of magnitude greater (tens of billions U$dollars/pa) value of market protections and subsidies etc than non-fossil energy...and that's counting in the lame ethanol. And this isn't counting mountaintop removal and other environmental cleanup costs, nor the cost of removing the CO2 from the air.

    Expanding to Oil Shale will increase that proportion even higher as it is extremely land and water intensive. BLM Land they can (and do) give away to the fossil companies, but the water won't come cheap for us water consumers.

    ...And then they will want us to bail them out when (not if) their house of cards falls.

  • ||

    Utley says "a Department of Energy report that 'the impact [of offshore drilling] on global oil prices would be insignificant.'"...

    ...and then he proceeds to offer opinion on how that's not the case. He mentions the fact that the study was done at a time when global oil prices were much lower, and thus the conclusion is no longer correct.

    That's just wrong. The reason all the oil extraction you could want to do in the US will have a negligible effect on global oil prices is because we are too small a producer to have a material impact on the global price. This applies whether we maintain drilling as today, or greatly expand it. Too many unwitting oil shills echo the stupid assumption that the US has any price control at all in this global market.

    So what would happen if we drilled everywhere we could with no restrictions. Utley suggests that we would produce this cheap oil at ~$70 a barrel, and flood the market with cheap oil, and prices would drop. Bollocks! The oil companies would, of course, price their US oil at the global price, or just slightly less, take the differential as profit (thank you very much), and have basically NO impact on price at all.

    Dude, you gotta get some economics training, and maybe a little business savvy. Drilling opposition is not all environmentalist whining, some of it is just macro econ. You can write-off the whining if you want, but you can't write-off the math.

  • Dave||

    HAM SANDWICH

  • ||

    Okay, Gilbert ... since you are dying to hear it, here's my take.

    Expanding exploration by using existing oil and gas leases in an environmentally responsible manner (that means cleaning up and trying not to destroy stuff just to save a dime) is fine by me. In addition to making an argument that taking this path could easily result in less expensive energy supplies without really changing the status quo, I believe this is what the article was all about.

    If petroleum exploration in areas that are currently designated as land to be held in the public trust as wilderness area is to be considered because there are simply no alternatives available, then guarantees of sound management (see above) and a clear chain of accountability and oversight need to be in place prior to opening the public bidding process that will grant additional leases to those who would do the development.

    Pretty simple, huh? Is that too greenie for ya? Maybe too leftie? Or can it just be dismissed as the rantings of an environmental wacko? Am I jamming too much stuff down your throat?

    Your turn, Gilbert. Do you have anything rational to offer, or will you simply post another "I can't understand ideas that don't come from a position of ignorance" screed?

  • johnl||

    Promoters are always promising more than is really possible with shale, ethanol, wind, ... and possibly even ANWR. Oil, natural gas, and coal are just so fabulous that it's going to be a while till other energy sources will be competitive.

    How is it that natural gas has become an alternative fuel?

  • ||

    James Butler snotted:

    My comments in this thread merely reflect my amusement with the windbag statements made by those who can predict what the greenie, leftie environmental wackos will do in the potential future.

    It is staggeringly easy to predict what greenie (watermelon or grape), leftie environmental zealots will do in the potential future. Even an unsophisticated rube like me can do it! Here goes:

    In the future, potential or otherwise, environmentalists will oppose anything which improves the quality of life or population of humans. They do this because they see humans as a virus on the face of the planet that deserves to be eradicated, not helped.

  • Contextant||

    Nice to see that there are other carbon based alternatives that are clean AND economical.

    Had to respond to djk's post:

    "The reason all the oil extraction you could want to do in the US will have a negligible effect on global oil prices is because we are too small a producer to have a material impact on the global price.

    Not true: The US already is the biggest oil producer in North America (8.33mil bbl/day). In the world, only Saudi Arabia (10.7) and Russia (9.7) are bigger.
    Add Chevron's recent find of 3 to 15 billion bbl in the Gulf of Mexico and a North Dakota find that is up to 100 billion bbl (enough to boost America's oil reserves by 10X!!), and we can, and will, move prices just a teensy weensy wittle bit.

  • ||

    "Extreme environmentalists will not be happy with the news about shale."

    They will be even more upset when they find out that the technology and shift in geologic concepts that made this new production of gas from shale possible, is already being applied to produce OIL from shale. The Bakken in North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota is the first example that is just now being explored and developed with this technology. Many more shales exist in the Rockies and other parts of the US that will yield oil using horizontal drilling and frac'ing. The changes in oil production will admittedly not be as dramatic as we have seen for natural gas (which is in danger of an oversupply situation right now) but all of the "drilling is a waste of time" crowd are being forced to stop any all drilling, lest they be proven wrong. If they are so sure they are right, why don't they just let us drill? You can't spill oil if you can't find it can you?

    "How is it that natural gas has become an alternative fuel?"
    This was Al Gore's idea when he published "Earth in the Balance". Apparently you forgot to read it.

  • ||

    Suprkufr wrote:
    "In the future, potential or otherwise, environmentalists will oppose anything which improves the quality of life or population of humans. They do this because they see humans as a virus on the face of the planet that deserves to be eradicated, not helped."

    I just got done reading some posts regarding the economy and wealth in general at http://www.terrapass.com/blog/ Wherein, bad economies are generally regarded as being bad for improving the environment.

    So pardon me if I disagree with your unsupported claim.

  • bottomofthe9th||

    $30/ton coal? Current prices are about $110/ton after spiking at $140 this summer. Indeed, coal prices rose more, and more rapidly, than did oil or natural gas prices.

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