Energy

What Energy Crisis? Natural Gas Supplies Could Last 250 Years

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Burning less money and carbon

In its Annual Energy Outlook report for 2011, the U.S. Energy Information Agency concluded that

the United States possesses 2,552 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of potential natural gas resources. Natural gas from shale resources, considered uneconomical just a few years ago, accounts for 827 Tcf of this resource estimate, more than double the estimate published last year. At the 2009 rate of U.S. consumption (about 22.8 Tcf per year), 2,552 Tcf of natural gas is enough to supply approximately 110 years of use.

Now UPI is reporting that the International Energy Agency's analysis finds that the world has enough natural gas to last 250 years:

Supplies of natural gas could last more than 250 years if Asian and European economies follow the U.S. unconventional reserves, the IEA said.

The abundance of shale gas and other forms of so-called unconventional gas discovered in the United States prompted a global rush to explore for the new resource.

The International Energy Agency said Australia is taking the lead in the push toward unconventional gas, though China, India and Indonesia are close behind. European companies are taking preliminary steps to unlock unconventional gas as are other regions….

Global supplies of natural gas could last for another 130 years at current consumption rates. That time frame could double with unconventional gas, the IEA said.

Since burning natural gas releases about half the carbon dioxide that burning coal does, increasing its use could go a long way toward reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are thought to be warming the planet. In addition, natural gas could be substituted for oil as a transport fuel reducing concerns about dependence on oil imports. However, abundant and cheap natural gas will undercut the rationales for investing in and deploying more expensive renewable energy technologies, e.g., solar and wind.

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  1. 65 cents a minute for Internet access??

    Brutal.

  2. We don’t need natural gas. Our hair shirts will keep us warm.

  3. Natural gas is not politically correct. The evul corporashuns have to rape Mother Earth to get it.

    1. STEVE SMITH RAPE MOTHER EARTH ONCE. MOTHER EARTH NOT FEEL GOOD. STEVE SMITH LIKE RAPE HIKERS BETTER.

      1. Gotta use some lube for a bitch that dry!

  4. “However, abundant and cheap natural gas will undercut the rationales for investing in and deploying more expensive renewable energy technologies, e.g., solar and wind.”

    Want to bet?

    1. undercut? not when fracking is stopped.

      1. Jesus what a useless cunt.

        1. gas whore

    2. Exactly. The rationale for investing in “renewable” energy has nothing to do with abundance or affordability.

      1. Re: Fatty Bolger,

        The rationale for investing in “renewable” energy has nothing to do with abundance or affordability.

        It’s not even a rationale… more like a belief.

        Planting giant daisies is no different than placing moai, and equally productive…

        http://www.factropolis.com/uploaded_images/Easter-786539.jpg

  5. Framing it as “110 years at current levels of consumption” and then trying to make the argument that it can be used as a substitute is double-counting, though. You want to use it to reduce carbon emissions cheaply and quickly, instead of doing something smart like building more nuclear? Okay. Factoring in using it for replacement power and possibly a transportation fuel, we’ve just significantly upped our consumption.

    And hey look, here comes China. But they have no interest in new energy supplies, right?

    That’s fine if you want to make the minerals economics argument that demand will drive exploration for supply. But I wouldn’t exactly be betting the farm on it staying cheap, even with unconventional supplies (which are almost certain to cost more to extract than current known reserves), particularly given its rather unstable price history.

    1. Yes there is doublecounting in RB’s piece. If we take coal plants offline we’ll burn through that NG right quick.

    2. Natural gas makes up 23% of total energy usage. Assuming that you quadruple usage (making it 100%), we’re left with 62.5 years of proven reserves.

      1. Still not correct. Those would be 62.5 years at current consumption rates. But energy demand can be expected to increase.

        1. Oh I agree. I posted a link belo that says that China expects to increase its NG usage by 77% in 2015.

    3. Yup. This is a common flaw I see in a lot of Ron’s columns: the failure to grapple with exponential growth, especially if you consider a mass migration from petroleum fuels (gasoline and diesel) to CNG for automotive applications.

    4. The China assumption is especially off. Just today Businessweek published an article that says that China’s NG demand may rise by 77% in 2015.

      http://www.businessweek.com/ne…..e-77-.html

  6. It seems where oil an ags are concerned there’s never any unanimous opinion. Too much money is involved in this business. That’s why it’s impossible to say for sure which of the two things above is true.

  7. My college roommate had an inexhaustible supply of natural gas…

  8. 250 years isn’t all that long in the grand scheme of things, and 110 years sure isn’t. You want to plan on our civilization only lasting 110 more years?

    1. Hey there cement-head, did you ever consider that maybe, just maybe, our level of technology and cumulative store of knowledge 100 years from now would put us in a better position to find alternatives (or even to discern whether alternatives are needed) at that time than at the current time?

    2. Easter Island|1.20.11 @ 11:14AM|#
      “250 years isn’t all that long in the grand scheme of things, and 110 years sure isn’t…”

      Yep, 110 years ago, well, man would never fly. I guess we’re bound to be stuck on some flyspeck island for the rest of time.

    3. According to a report in 1870, London will be covered with several feet of horse dung by 1970.

    4. 110 years ago nobody had any need for petroleum.

    5. Proven reserves have increased faster than consumption since the day after natural gas became commoditized. 40 years ago we didn’t have 110 years worth of proven reserves.

      1. Proven reserves have increased faster than consumption since the day after natural gas became commoditized. 40 years ago we didn’t have 110 years worth of proven reserves.

        Eventually we will run out.

        1. We’re still on the left side of the exploration peak, and probably will be for another 40 years. Given the world demographics, I expect 55 years from now that even a much richer China will consume less LNG and Petroleum. Same with Europe.

  9. Just remember, oil will be in the ground well after we stop using it. Its flow rate that matters, not overall reserves.

  10. Sorry, I know I’ve brought this up several times, but does the “110 years of use” even include gas hydrates, Ron? If you trust the USGS,

    Recent mapping conducted by the USGS off North Carolina and South Carolina shows large accumulations of methane hydrates.

    A pair of relatively small areas… shows intense concentrations of gas hydrates. USGS scientists estimate that these areas contain more than 1,300 trillion cubic feet of methane gas, an amount representing more than 70 times the 1989 gas consumption of the United States.

    Note that these are small areas, and that the amount of gas hydrates around the US is several times this amount.

    1. BP: The stats do not include methane hydrates.

      1. Thank you.

    2. NOBODY knows how to commercially extract methane hydrates. As with solar and wind, my suspicion is that they’re far too diffuse to be of any practical value.

      1. Given the amount of time people have been working on solar and wind versus hydrates, I’d be more willing to bet on the latter.

        If for no other reason than the amount of energy to be obtained can be quantified to near certainty. Try doing that with a wind or solar project.

        1. The trouble with hydrates is the exploration needed to find them; they’re not like, say, a big gas field where you can go in and just drill. They’re scattered, and generally you know about hydrates because you accidentally drilled through them on your way to a promising oil or gas play (and maybe caused a catastrophic rig failure along the way). Unlike other forms of gas, we don’t have a good way to find them, and extraction is more like mining than current forms of natural gas.

          1. Actually, none of what you say is true. You can just go in and drill. They are concentrated just like conventional gas fields. They have never caused any rig failures (not the ones in the ground). There are confirmed ways to find it. Extraction is by the same technologies used to drill any other well.

            http://www.netl.doe.gov/newsro…..-27-09.pdf

  11. If we could extract uranium from seawater, we’d have civilization fuel until the Sun goes into its red giant stage several billion years from now.

    Yeah, it’s possible. The Japanese are working on it.

    I am rarely accused of not seeing the BIG picture. 🙂

    1. There’s even more thorium. Best part is, nuclear fuel prices can rise about 10x and barely affect the price of electricity produced.

      The official estimates are there exists between 1,000 and 250,000 years of nuclear fuel, at 1999 levels of consumption. This includes seawater and other estimated undiscovered reserves.

      This is why I keep telling the fusion guys that ITER/DEMO is a giant waste of time. Even the most advanced ARES designs are an order of magnitude behind LWR fission plants, and those have at least 1,000 years ahead of them. There’s no reason to spend tens of billions on a reactor path with no foreseeable market.

      1. Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors

        http://energyfromthorium.com/

      2. There’s even more thorium. Best part is, nuclear fuel prices can rise about 10x and barely affect the price of electricity produced.

        Is thorium fissile?

        There’s no reason to spend tens of billions on a reactor path with no foreseeable market.

        Unless one takes some sort of sexual pleasure from fusing atomic nuclei.

        1. Is thorium fissile?

          On its own, no. But Th-232 is fertile and easily transmuted to U-233, which is fissile. (Similar to how U-238 can be consumed by transmutation into Pu-239 within a reactor.)

        2. Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors

          energyfromthorium.com

        3. Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors

          energyfromthorium. com

        4. Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors

          energyfromthorium.you knowwhatsincethedamnspamfilterwontpost
          reply to this

  12. But but but…if we have ample reserves of an existing inexpensive fuel source, what will become of the millions I invested in those green energy companies I just happen to have founded?

  13. NG is overrated as a clean fuel for transportation. Yes it burns cleaner than gasoline when it burns. But if the tank is evacuated once that makes up for a year’s worth of burning cleaner. (I am counting only unburnt hydrocarbons as pollution not CO2.)

  14. NG is overrated as a clean fuel for transportation. Yes it burns cleaner than gasoline when it burns. But if the tank is evacuated once that makes up for a year’s worth of burning cleaner. (I am counting only unburnt hydrocarbons as pollution not CO2.)

    1. You don’t have to use it as found. Do we burn crude oil directly or do we reformulate it to better meet our needs?

  15. I’ve thought for years now natural gas the natural successor to gooier hydrocarbons for energy.

    CH4, is one of the basic molecular building blocks of the entire freaking universe, and an essential organic compound. Neptune and Uranus are rather large balls of the stuff. It rains methane upon oceans of methane on Titan. Reason it burns the cleanest is because it is the simplest hydrocarbon of them all. I believe energy content per mass of methane compared to other hydro-c’s reflects that. (380 seconds of impulse if I remember correctly).

    All the infrastructure problems of moving cryo-methane around, the pipes, the tankers, the terminals, all that shit’s already there. Natural gas is the future so-to-speak. Its like in The Graduate with the plastics shtick, which is ironic because CH4 is feedstock resource for plastics industry.

  16. The other thing about methane that’s nice is that eventually, the infrastructure currently being used can probably still be used when fossil NG runs out- let’s not forget that there some large taxa of common organisms that naturally produce methane; granted, I think biogas needs to be refined first before injection, but we already have refineries for NG.
    I am indeed looking forward to an alternative to fossil fuels, but it’s clear to me (and I assume everyone else here) that subsidies ain’t gonna cut it. I’m looking forward to something that’s actually cheaper, with a more stable supply- and only the market can deliver that.

    1. A colony on Titan would never run out of fuel. The problem is that getting it to burn you’d have to somehow extract O2 from water ice. So O2 would be the scarce resource instead of the “free” resource found in the atmosphere. Is there a sci-fi book about this anywhere? If not, I should write one.

      The colony could extract O2 from water ice, congeal the hydrocarbons into “food”, and burn so much hydrocarbons and release so much CO2 that it started to change the chemistry of Titan. Into what I’m not sure.

      1. You’d damn well better have an environmental impact study done before you start doing that, buster.

        1. Be sure to become part of that government; just think of all the fuel tax possibilitis!

      2. Can you really extract O2 from frozen water, combine it with methane, and come out ahead energy-wise? I am skeptical.

        1. That’s because you aren’t sufficiently O2 starved. Just wait ’til you get to Titan.

      3. Maybe a trade could be set up; compressed O2 from Earth in exchange for methane from Titan.

        Use the tax money on the trade to fund cheap women from Mars.

        1. Triangular Trade, 25th Century style!

  17. However, abundant and cheap natural gas will undercut the rationales for investing in and deploying more expensive renewable energy technologies, e.g., solar and wind.

    Assuming, of course, that the arguments in favor of further investment in solar and wind are rational… which are not.

  18. In addition, natural gas could be substituted for oil as a transport fuel [in trucks and semis] reducing concerns about dependence on oil imports.

    Just don’t crash into one, for the love of God.

    http://www.tubehome.com/watch/gas-truck-explosion

    1. Oh, that’ll be the least of your worries one day soon.

      Last I heard, the Feds were going to pass regs that would effectively force auto manufactures to pre-mix fuel and air and feed that directly into the engine cylinders.

      So instead of just having a rail full of liquid gas running around the engine compartment of your car, as it is today, you’d have it pre-mixed at the right A/F ratio to burn instantly.

      Wait until people start getting in accidents with cars like that.

      I’ve been out of the auto industry for a long time now and I’m not sure if this really came to pass. But I know the Feds were sounding really serious about forcing the issue to go there.

  19. I was wondering if there was any way I could recapture my ass gas? The older I get, the gassier I seem to become. If I am going to be farting around all the time, I might as well try to make some money at it.

    Perhaps I could represent the USA in the next Olympics should it become a sport.

    1. For a small fee I will design you a car that runs on it. Then you can fart around at will.

      At least until the EPA sees what’s coming out the exhaust pipe and decides you need a gas scrubber.

  20. During the Carter administration, a government scientist pointed out that the U.S. had natural gas reserves to last four thousand years . But the Carter administration rejected that report because they wanted an energy crisis.

    1. Well, that was the best way to divert attention from his hostage crisis…

  21. I thought long-term forecasts were bullshit? Bailey taught me that.

  22. Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors

    energyfromthorium.you knowwhatsincethedamnspamfilterwontpost

  23. The Annual Energy Outlook 2011 reports 2,552 Tcf of natural gas “potential resources” (i.e., unproved and therefore not a reserve), but only 245 Tcf of natural gas “proved reserves” (see Press Conference Presentation, slide 22). This knocks the supply down to 11 years. If natural gas replaces the oil we import, the supply is down to 5.5 years. Seems like the making of a crisis to me – “potential resources” are a potential that may not materialize, particularly if fracking in shale formations turns out to be as damaging as many believe.

  24. Now if you put Solar Energy Panels (PV) on your Home roof and car port you can drive

    50 to 80 miles each day FREE. Energy From the Sun. Many are doing so all over the Earth.

    Electric Cars and Hybrids Cars that run on Electric and some other fuel will soon out

    sell all others. With the Help of Solar Energy and People around the Planet getting more

    knowledge every day of it on the news and seeing it on more roofs everywhere. Those that

    have the intelligence to see the good in Solar Energy are growing every day.

    Solar Energy in the next year will out pass most all other forms of energy.

    Right today November 22, 2011 under Solar Energy there is 19,000,000 websites and under

    Images 1,520,000 for Solar Power plants.

    For Coal power plants 1,290,000 under images.

    For Hydro Power Plants 3,690,000 websites and 1,5000,000 under images.

    Most in the World are re tooling to make Electric Hybrid Cars.

    Iran is a Little slow do to its export of crude oil, oil is number one in that country

    right behind that is their gas guzzler cars.

    Now Israeli is making a Electric Hybrid that you will be able to drive anywhere in Europe

    and in one tenth the time it would take to put gas in your car you can drive up and away

    with a recharged Battery Pack. Like a cordless drill or Cordless Tool it would take out the

    old and put in a recharged one back in in less then a minute in seconds just like the

    Cordless Tool. You would pay for only the electric used the battery packs are owned by

    the car manufacturer.

    No more oil change stations or gas it will be a Battery exchange

    station. For those that are driving cross country

    the rest will be able to recharge at home or at work. Free from the Sun Energy Solar Energy (PV).

    This kind of car is going to but and end for the need of OIL for most world wide very soon.

    The Lord’s Little Helper
    Paul Felix Schott

    PS

    The day will come when many will use the Sun’s Energy from our roof tops through solar panels to split the tap water into Hydrogen and store it in tanks by our home to refill our cars to run on. This system of Solar Hydrogen will run our cars heat our homes and we will cook our food.

  25. This doesn’t seem to account for increasing use of energy and increasing population and industrialization. If you triple gas use it will only last 80 years.

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