Fracking good or fracking bad ?
Is unconventional gas good for the planet
and good for the economy?
David P. Knight
Unconventional gas = shale gas + coalbed gas
+tight gas +underground coal gasification
What is Shale gas fracking?
Dec 1 2012 note: We have removed the diagram that originally
appeared here so as not to violate copyright law. You can access it on
the Analysis Group website at
What is Coalbed methane?
What is tight gas
What is underground coal gasification?
Unconventional gas
unable to reverse
decline in total gas
production beyond
Conventional Gas
starts to Peak/
plateau about 2020
250 k
Shell's analysis doesn’t consider full cycle CO2, methane and sulfur
dioxide or the fact that we must leave the 95% of the estimated fossil
fuel reserves in the ground!
Total potentially
feasible for economic
extraction in Trillion
tonnes of carbon
Central estimates of warming produced by different global
fossil fuel resources Omits effects of methane and SO2
After Swart, N.C.&
Weaver, AJ.2012
Nature Clim. Chang.
Additional warming to stay within
2°C (Already had 0.8°C )
Methane leakage from conventional and unconventional gas
GHG emissions in g C CO2 e per MJ electricity
How do GHG emissions compare for shale gas ,
conventional gas, and coal electricity production?
.Slightly modified from Howarth RW , Santoro , R and Ingraffea, A. Methane and the greenhouse-gas
footprint of natural gas from shale formations, Climatic Change 2011
“…best guess of 4% [ for fugitive methane
emissions ] is slightly higher than [Howarth’s]
estimate of 2.2–3.8% for shale gas drilling and
Tollefson, J. 2012 .Nature , 482, 139-140
Three further blows to Shell’s “Cleaner gas”
1. Wigley 2011 “Coal to gas : the influence of methane
Climatic Change 2011 DOI 10.1007/s10584-011-0217-3
1. Alvarez et al. 2012 “Greater focus needed on methane
leakage al gas infrastructure”
1. Myhrvold and Caldeira 2012 “Greenhouse gases, climate
change and the transition from coal to low-carbon
Summary so far
“Is unconventional gas good for the
All unmitigated fossil fuel burning must cease
by 2050. Pursuing gas would delay investment
in renewables.
The evidence presented here suggests that a
switch to gas for transport and electricity
generation is worse for warming
Is unconventional gas good for the
global economy ?
Main source : Arthur Berman . Source Labyrinth
Consulting Services, Inc. Presentation at ASPO USA 2010
World Oil Conference
Source Arthur Berman (2010) “Gas—Abundance or Mirage?” ASPO USA 2010 World Oil
Production rate in selected typical wells in different shale gas fields. No
evidence for industry claim that production can be maintained for 10
Chesapeake Energy, “2010 Institutional Investor and Analyst Meeting,” (Oklahoma City, OK
XBlPTM=&t=1, pg. 54.
Average of major operators’ cumulative production will not reach
advertised estimated ultimate recoverable gas soon enough add value.
Proven reserves much less than estimated technically
Top 15. Data April 2011
Shale plays have contracted to a core
area. Example- Haynesville Shale Louisiana
•The emerging core area shrunk to ~110,000
acres or about 5 Townships.
•Approximately 10% of the play area in defined
by limits of drilling (1.5 million acres or 65
•2 years ago, this was promoted as the 4th
largest gas field in the world, and the largest in
North America.
Average gas production per well has declined steeply despite a
dramatic increase in the number of US wells producing gas.
Based on data from U.S. Energy Information Administration . Source:
EROI for discovering Oil and Gas in the US has
fallen from >1,200 to <5 !
Guilford, MG, Hall ,CAS, O’ Connor, P., 3 Cleveland, CE. 20011
“A New Long Term Assessment of Energy Return on Investment (EROI) for U.S. Oil and
Gas Discovery and Production” Sustainability, 3, 1866-1887
Global EROI for producing oil and gas
Ajay K. Gupta * and Charles A.S. Hall 2011 A Review of the Past and Current State
of EROI Data
Sustainability, 3,
•Operator claims of profitability at <$8M/Mcf gas prices exclude many costs. Currently
Henry hub price about $2M
•Huge operating costs related to need for thousands of expensive wells etc.
Data from annual reports
Berman’s conclusion
“Shale gas plays in the United States are
commercial failures and shareholders in public
exploration and production (E&P) companies
are the losers.”
What can be done about this?