Posts Tagged ‘“Peak” gas’

Fossil Fuels Will Save the World (Really)

March 17, 2015

Matt Ridley has an opinion piece in the WSJ which says many things far better than I can.

The environmental movement has advanced three arguments in recent years for giving up fossil fuels: (1) that we will soon run out of them anyway; (2) that alternative sources of energy will price them out of the marketplace; and (3) that we cannot afford the climate consequences of burning them.

These days, not one of the three arguments is looking very healthy. In fact, a more realistic assessment of our energy and environmental situation suggests that, for decades to come, we will continue to rely overwhelmingly on the fossil fuels that have contributed so dramatically to the world’s prosperity and progress. …….

The article is well worth reading. Fossil Fuels Will Save the World Ridley WSJ

Ground zero is that fossil fuels will eventually be replaced only when a cheaper, more reliable source of energy (electricity production) is found. There is no foreseeable “peak” for fossil fuels and availability is not a constraint. Solar and wind technologies have small, clear niches which they can well fill but practical and affordable energy storage is needed before they can be any significant source of our energy consumption. And Li-ion batteries will not cut it. As Ridley points out they provide about 1% of our energy consumption today while fossil fuels still reign supreme at about 87%. Nuclear power could make a severe dent in fossil fuel consumption, but only if the costs and the construction time due to the regulatory process can be drastically reduced – and that does not seem likely as long as alarmists and doom-sayers hold sway. (I estimate that around 30% of the capital cost of nuclear plants is unnecessary and due to CYA regulations which are driven by fear). Small, safe, pre-approved, modular, fifth-generation nuclear power plants could take-off but that requires many alarmists to give up their faith.

(As an aside, I observe that climate and energy politics have become the politics of fear, but I am an optimist and I expect the pendulum will swing to return to energy politics based on courage. It is a form of cowardice which drives energy politics today where I take cowardice to be actions subordinated to fear and courage to be fears subordinated to purposeful actions).

Perhaps fusion (probably hot rather than cold) will come – but a breakthrough is not in sight (though by definition breakthroughs are never generally in sight). We can fantasise that we will someday be able to tap into the gravitational energy of the solar system (which would be solar energy in another form). I don’t doubt that some new, cheap, energy source or energy conversion technique will appear – but until then fossil fuels will provide the basis for human development. And if we are on our way into a new ice age it is fossil fuel which will ensure our survival.

I dismiss the hypothesis – and it is still only a hypothesis – that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are of any significance for “global temperature”. In fact the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere (and man-made emissions are a tiny contributor to that) has a very small effect on “global temperature”. Instead it is “global temperature” which has a very large effect on carbon dioxide concentration through the balance of absorption and emission from the oceans and from the biosphere. Carbon dioxide concentration lags rather than leads “global temperature”. The sun and clouds and ocean currents and winds (also driven by the sun) dwarf any effects of carbon dioxide. The hypothesis looks broken considering that over the last 18 years man-made carbon dioxide emissions have increased sharply but “global temperature” has been static. Even the assumed “global warming” that is supposed to have taken place over the last 100 years are to a significant extent “manufactured” by “adjusting” temperature data and choosing weighting and averaging algorithms which are biased to show a pre-determined result. There is a shortage of “science” and far too much confirmation bias in what passes for “climate science” these days.

Gas from methane hydrates within a decade?

October 3, 2014

Gas production from the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of shale is already well established (even booming) in the US. Huge amounts of gas and oil bearing shale (as much as all known reserves of natural gas) around the rest of the world are yet to be exploited. But the methane hydrates on the sea beds dwarf all the known fossil fuel reserves put together.

The sheer abundance of methane hydrates around the globe and the thought that much of this gas could soon be economically extractable is almost intoxicating for those involved.

“The worldwide amounts of carbon bound in gas hydrates is conservatively estimated to total twice the amount of carbon to be found in all known fossil fuels on Earth”.


Methane Hydrate Resources per Der-Spiegel

Methane Hydrate Resources per Der-Spiegel

Methane hydrate deposits are so widespread around the world’s coastlines that cartel formation will be almost impossible. The technology for extraction however could become a very hot property. The Japanese – who don’t have any shale but do have access to methane hydrate deposits – have been leading the charge for extraction of gas from methane hydrates and tests have been promising. The US and India and China are also active but the Japanese are probably closest to commercial production. Now 11 Japanese companies have formed a consortium to exploit the resource and conduct larger production tests following the successful extraction test carried out by the Japanese government in 2012. Japan could have commercial quantities of methane hydrate gas flowing within a decade.

Natural Gas Daily:

A group of 11 Japanese companies have formed a joint venture to conduct production tests of offshore methane hydrates – an unconventional resource seen as a potential game changer for the world’s largest LNG importer. 

Led by Japan Petroleum Exploration (Japex) and starting with a capital contribution of ¥300 million ($2.8 million), Japan Methane Hydrate Operating Co. (JMH) will provide contractor services and carry out field operations during the medium- and long-term production tests sponsored by the government. 

The JV partners will each share their expertise and technology to support the exploration and testing, JMH said in its first press release on Wednesday. 

“A substantial quantity of methane hydrate is estimated to be in the offshore areas around Japan. Serving as a new domestic energy source, with the potential to make a major contribution to a stable national energy supply for Japan, technological development is necessary for its commercialisation, including the establishment of production technologies,” the company said.

The Japanese government successfully produced the world’s first methane hydrates in March 2012, after drilling an experimental well in the offshore Nankai Trough and carrying out a production test that exceeded expectations (see Japan flows hydrates in landmark offshore test, 12 March 2013). 

That was followed two months later by a steady flow of gas from methane hydrates in Alaska’s North Slope, which a partnership between the United States Department of Energy (DOE), ConocoPhillips and Japan’s state-run JOGMEC called a “successful, unprecedented test of technology”.  ……. 

The government has said it expects to develop the technology needed to produce gas from methane hydrates by about 2018, although it remains to be proven whether the resource will be commercial (see Methane hydrates seen as the next big unconventional gas, 22 April 2013). 

Methane hydrates appear in Arctic sediments and below continental shelves as far apart as India and New Zealand. Worldwide deposits are estimated at up to 20,000 trillion cubic metres of gas – compared with 185.7 tcm of proven gas reserves in the world at the end of 2013, according to BP statistics. …… 

The JMH JV includes Japex (operator, 33%), Japan Drilling Co. (18%), Inpex (13%), Idemitsu Oil & Gas (5%), JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration (5%), Nippon Steel & Sumikin Engineering Co. (5%), Chiyoda Corp. (5%), Toyo Engineering Corp. (5%), JGC Corp. (5%), Mitsui Oil Exploration (5%) and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co. (1%). 

With new natural gas reserves being found in the Arctic and with all the shale gas yet to be extracted and, now, with the vast amount of methane hydrates available, “peak gas” is at least 1,000 years away.

Now “peak-copper”- like “peak oil” and “peak gas” – disappears from view

July 6, 2013

Following peak oil and peak gas  it now seems that “peak copper” is also disappearing over the horizon. Researchers at Monash University show that known copper reserves with existing recovery technologies are sufficient at least for 100 years and not just 30.

The fundamental fault with the alarmist image of resources running out – following a classic M. King Hubbert curve – is that alternatives to the resource and new discoveries of the resource are not taken into account. Added to this is the changes to consumption patterns that come about with changes of technology and with changes of price as a resource dwindles in availability. In fact it is the price change which itself acts a spur to the finding of alternatives and new technologies which do not even need that particular resource. “Peak” scenarios are a consequence of using numbers without the exercise of mind.

MU Press ReleaseNew research shows that existing copper resources can sustain increasing world-wide demand for at least a century, meaning social and environmental concerns could be the most important restrictions on future copper production. 

Researchers from Monash University have conducted the most systematic and robust compilation and analysis of worldwide copper resources to date. Contrary to predictions estimating that supplies of this important metal would run out in around 30 years, the research has found there are plenty of resources within the reach of current technologies.

The database, published in two peer-reviewed papers, was compiled by Dr Gavin Mudd and Zhehan Weng from Environmental Engineering and Dr Simon Jowitt from the School of Geosciences. It is based on mineral resource estimates from mining companies and includes information vital for carbon and energy-use modelling, such as the ore grade of the deposits.

Dr Jowitt said the database could change the industry’s understanding of copper availability.

“Although our estimates are much larger than any previously available, they’re a minimum. In fact, figures for resources at some mining projects have already doubled or more since we completed the database,” Dr Jowitt said. 

“Further, the unprecedented level of detail we’ve presented will likely improve industry practice with respect to mineral resource reporting and allow more informed geological exploration.”

Dr Mudd said the vast volumes of available copper meant the mining picture was far more complex than merely stating there were ‘x’ years of supply left. …..


The researchers will now undertake detailed modelling of the life cycles and greenhouse gas impacts of potential copper production, and better assessment of future environmental impacts of mining.

They will also create similar databases for other metals, such as nickel, uranium, rare earths, cobalt and others, in order to paint a comprehensive picture of worldwide mineral availability.

UK shale gas deposits could be 10 times greater than thought

June 27, 2013

Reality bites!

The rush to fracking and shale gas goes on. There is no country which is not going to exploit the potential of much cheaper electricity generation and subsequent growth and job creation (and note that even Obama’s nonsense attack on carbon dioxide to placate the global warming fanatics takes great care to avoid any attack on shale gas). Shale gas recovery – unlike some other technologies – will not need any subsidies.

Now the British Geological Survey has reported that the UK shale gas deposits are huge and much, much larger than originally thought and “peak gas” has disappeared over the horizon.


UK shale gas resources may be far greater than previously thought, a report for the government says.

The British Geological Survey was asked to estimate how much gas is trapped in rocks beneath Lancashire and Yorkshire.

It said there could be 1,300 trillion cubic feet at one site alone, but it is unclear how much could be extracted.

Ministers are set to announce financial benefits for communities where fracking – the controversial extraction technique – takes place.

BBC industry correspondent John Moylan says the government is also likely to announce plans for tax incentives to encourage investment in shale gas, and a streamlining of the process to award drilling permits.

He describes the BGS survey as potentially a “landmark” moment.

The exploitation of shale gas and oil revolutionised the energy industry in the US, although there are questions over whether the same thing can be repeated in the UK. … 

Japanese test confirms successsful extraction of gas from deep-sea methane hydrate

March 13, 2013

Methane hydrates represent the largest source of hydrocarbons in the earth’s crust.

“The worldwide amounts of carbon bound in gas hydrates is conservatively estimated to total twice the amount of carbon to be found in all known fossil fuels on Earth”.

JOGMEC has put out a press release:

Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation which has been conducting preparation works for the first offshore production test off the coasts of Atsumi and Shima peninsulas, started a flow test applying the depressurization method and confirmed production of methane gas estimated from methane hydrate layers on March 12, 2013.
JOGMEC will start analyzing data while it continues the flow test.

Methane hydrate receives attention as one of the unconventional gas resources in the future.
During the period from FY2001 to FY2008, which is Phase 1 of the “Japan’s Methane Hydrate R&D Program”, seismic surveys and exploitation drillings were conducted at the eastern Nankai trough, off the coast from Shizuoka-pref. to Wakayama-pref., as the model area, where a considerable amount of methane hydrate deposits is confirmed.
In Phase 2 of the Program starting from FY2009, aiming to develop a technology to extract natural gas through dissociation of methane hydrate, this is the first offshore test ever conducted. The first offshore production test is planned over a span of two years. In February and March last year, the preparatory works including drilling a production well and two monitoring wells were conducted. From June to July, the pressured core samples were acquired from methane hydrate layers. In this operation, a flow test through dissociation of methane hydrate is conducted after the preparatory works including drilling and installing equipments for the flow test.

Deposits of methane hydrates have been reported in marine sediments in the Nankai Trough off the Pacific coast of central Japan, where the water depth is more than 500 meters. Some estimates indicate that the reserves of methane hydrate correspond to a 100-year supply of natural gas for Japan, making it an important potential source of energy. The Japan National Oil Corporation (JNOC) began research work on methane hydrates in 1995, and JOGMEC has overseen the project since the JNOC’s restructuring. An international joint research team including Japan has obtained successful results in experimental production of methane gas by injecting hot water into a borehole in the Mackenzie Delta in the arctic region of Canada.

With shale gas and shale oil adding to the known reserves of oil and gas and now with the potential exploitation of deep-sea methane hydrates, “peak-oil” and “peak-gas” would seem to have been postponed by a millenium.


UK has enough shale gas for a millenium

February 9, 2013

Shale gas reserve estimates keep on increasing. We have the peculiar situation where Russia and some of the large oil companies attack shale gas only because some of their existing business may be threatened. But they all also have strong positions with shale gas. But what is clear is that “peak gas” has been postponed by several hundred years and there is no energy crisis in sight.

Peak Gas will never come

The Times has seen advance copies of the British Geological Survey’s new estimates of shale gas reserves in the UK:

Britain could have enough shale gas to heat every home for 1,500 years, according to new estimates that suggest reserves are 200 times greater than experts previously believed. The British Geological Survey is understood to have increased dramatically its official estimate of the amount of shale gas to between 1,300 trillion and 1,700 trillion cubic feet, dwarfing its previous estimate of 5.3 trillion cubic feet.

According to GWPF:

According to industry sources, the revised estimates will be published by the Government next month, fuelling hopes that new “fracking” techniques to capture trapped resources will result in cheaper energy bills.

It is thought that it will be technically possible to recover up to a fifth of this gas, making Britain’s shale rocks potentially as bountiful as those in the US. Experts stressed that it was still much too early to say how much of the gas it would be economic to get out of the ground to heat homes and help to generate electricity. 

In an interview with The Times today, Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, tries to downplay hopes of a shale gas glut in the UK pushing down household heating bills, which are at record highs. “It is not the golden goose. The experts are clear that they do not expect this to have a major impact on the gas price.”

The UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), which also represents other onshore oil and gas producers, is aiming to win over public opinion about the shale gas industry, in particular by countering claims that the process of fracking poses an environmental menace.

The shale gas industry is gearing up for a year of intense activity after the Government lifted an 18-month moratorium on fracking in December. The ban was imposed in May 2011 after Cuadrilla Resources, the explorer backed by Lord Browne of Madingley, the former chief executive of BP, set off dozens of earth tremors when it began fracking on sites near Blackpool. The company intends to resume fracking this summer to find out more about the size and commercial potential of its reserves.

Other explorers sitting on vast shale gas deposits will also apply for fracking licences soon. Government officials are preparing to hold an onshore oil and gas licensing round this year which could result in more parts of the UK being opened up for shale exploration.


“Peak Oil” vanishes and even OPEC bows to shale fracking technology

November 9, 2012

The various catastrophe scenarios based on the depletion of a limited resource (peak-oil, peak-gas, peak-energy, peak-food……….) have a fundamental weakness – they fail to account for human ingenuity and technological advance. History has shown that such Malthusian scenarios just do not come to pass. New discoveries change the availability of the resource, innovation and technology find alternatives and economics changes pricing and the supply/demand dynamics.

Moving peaks

In February this year I posted:

In recent times the development of fracking technology and the discovery of huge deposits of gas-bearing shales together with the discovery of new deep-sea sources of natural gas have pushed the “peak” for gas production beyond the visible horizon and into the distant future (a few hundred years). When – rather than if – methane hydrates become available for gas production, the “peak” will shift further into the future.

Reuters now reports on Opec’s latest World Oil Outlook 

OPEC acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that technology for extracting oil and gas from shale is changing the global supply picture significantly ……

In its annual World Oil Outlook, OPEC cut its forecast of global oil demand to 2016 due to economic weakness and also increased its forecast of supplies from countries outside the 12-nation exporters’ group.

“Given recent significant increases in North American shale oil and shale gas production, it is now clear that these resources might play an increasingly important role in non-OPEC medium- and long-term supply prospects,” the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said in the report.

OPEC has been slower than some to acknowledge the impact that new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing – known as “fracking” – may have on supply.

As with peak gas, peak oil and rampant pessimism need to be postponed

July 9, 2012

Recovery of gas and oil from shale is more than just a game changer – it is a mind-changer. The recoverability of oil and gas from shale postpones “peak oil” and “peak gas” indefinitely. For 3 decades we have suffered from the rampant pessimism of the alarmists and the coercive politics of fear. A change of mind-set from pessimistic environmentalism and backward-looking conservationism is called for. A shift of attitude from the joyless “glass half-empty and we are doomed” to the entrepreneurial “glass half-full but can be filled”  is over-due.

Resource depletion with usage is a trivial truth  – though matter at the elemental level is never destroyed by human use. However utilisation of resources does alter the composition and concentration of materials remaining available. But every alarmist and doom-sayer who has ever lived and has forecast impending catastrophe has been proven spectacularly wrong. Human ingenuity has faced every challenge and trumped the doom-sayers – every time.

The pictures say it all:

The scope of the US oil shale resource

The scope of the US oil shale resource

Related: “Peak Oil” hypothesis is following “Peak Gas” into oblivion

Moving peaks

“Peak Oil” hypothesis is following “Peak Gas” into oblivion

February 20, 2012

Oil production from oil shales in North Dakota is increasing rapidly and the much-heralded “peak” of oil production may have to be postponed. Alarmists will not be pleased.

“Peak Oil” and “Peak Gas” are the points in time where the production of oil and gas respectively reach a peak and then decline to zero. The concept is based on the normal production cycle of an individual well extrapolated to all the oil and gas existing. The fundamental flaw in these hypotheses when trying to apply them to “finite” and exhaustible resources of any product is of course that:

  • new sources of the product are discovered
  • new extraction technologies enhance what can be recovered from existing sources,
  • new technologies make non-viable sources viable
  • new technologies allow the synthesis or alternative production of the product (price driven)
  • consumption is modified by pricing

Moving peaks

In recent times the development of fracking technology and the discovery of huge deposits of gas-bearing shales together with the discovery of new deep-sea sources of natural gas have pushed the “peak” for gas production beyond the visible horizon and into the distant future (a few hundred years). When – rather than if – methane hydrates become available for gas production, the “peak” will shift further into the future.

In the case of oil there are already many feasible alternatives which are technically feasible but where commercial production by these methods can only be triggered by the sustainable price being higher than the production cost. For example bio-diesel costs are commercial with oil prices above about $70 per barrel but there is a hidden cost in decreased or disrupted food production. Coal liquefaction would need oil prices above $120 per barrel while oil extraction from oil shales and oil sands become commercial at about $90 and $100 respectively. Deep sea wells (new exploration) are increasingly commercial as the price increases.

The alternatives are now coming into play:


Now China gears up for the shale gas revolution

February 14, 2012

China has reserves of shale gas at least 50% greater than in the US and is the latest country hopping onto the fracking band-wagon. The Chinese are looking to acquire minority interests in technology companies owning fracking technology in the US and are pushing ahead with their plans for production of shale gas. It seems quite clear now that whenever the global economic recovery finally gets going, the availability of shale gas will be one of the contributing factors. I expect we shall see a boom in exploration for shale gas reserves, in increasing production of shale gas and a boom in gas-fired power generation. There may well be a boom in the sales of gas turbines for power generation within the next 2 -3 years.

“Peak” gas is nowhere in sight. And the fracking technology developments seem to have application even for the recovery of large amounts of gas from methane gas hydrates which are found under deep sea-beds (>500m deep) and even under thick layers of permafrost. While this may take another 10+ years to develop, it makes it even more unlikely that any “peak” gas scenario can develop.

Shale gas reserves: Reuters graphic

Forbes reports:


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