A detailed new energy report from US based Post Carbon Institute argues that the natural gas industry has propagated dangerously false claims about natural gas production supply, cost and environmental impact.
The report, ‘Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century’ is authored by leading geoscientist and Post Carbon Institute Fellow J David Hughes.
The most significant of the natural gas industry’s claims – one that has been bought ‘hook, line and sinker’ by everyone from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) and the Obama Administration, to leading environmental groups – is that the United States has a 100-year supply of cheap natural gas. The report shows this to be a pipe dream. Natural gas would require higher costs and unprecedented drilling efforts to meet even baseline supply projections. In fact, the US faces a decline in domestic gas supplies in the very near future unless drilling rates quickly increase.
Also debunked is the perception that shale gas is better for the climate than coal. Building on other recent analysis, the report shows that shale gas is worse than coal over a 20-30 year timeframe, even after efforts to mitigate fugitive methane emissions. This should have major implications for those who have touted natural gas as a near-term bridge to a clean energy future.
Post Carbon Institute’s report concludes that the USA faces serious, and heretofore unacknowledged, production constraints with shale gas that mean the following three things are very unlikely to happen:
1 Meeting the EIA’s projections for natural gas to 2035.
2 Replacing significant amounts of coal-fired electricity with natural gas (not included in EIA projections).
3 Transitioning a significant percentage of the vehicle fleet to burn natural gas (also not included in EIA projections).
All of three of these would require much higher levels of drilling and higher prices than projected by the EIA. At least 35000 new wells will need to be drilled each and every year to meet EIA projections. More still to provide more natural gas-fired electricity and far more than this number to transition the vehicle fleet.
The ‘bottom line’ is that the USA will be living with less domestic natural gas in the future, not more, unless it is prepared to pay higher prices and tolerate a major scale up of climate and other environmental impacts. This is a major challenge to the nearly ubiquitous assumption that we will have abundant, cheap, and ‘clean’ natural gas to power the future.
Download the report at: http://bit.ly/pcinatgas