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Thread: Gas, gas, gas, and more gas.

  1. #1 Gas, gas, gas, and more gas. 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Reference : New Scientist, 15 March 2014, page 6

    The USA started it. Fracking. Then shale gas everywhere. The USA has found so much shale gas using fracking that they are replacing coal burning wholesale. To the degree that carbon emissions have dropped back to mid 1990's levels.

    Now it is Britains turn. Enough shale gas has now been found that, if exploited, it will supply Britain with all the gas it needs for the next 40 years. And that is one area alone. Not the only area. New gas rich shales have been found in Britain further south. Lots more gas.

    Britain will not be the last. It appears that gas reserves globally have been massively underestimated. China is supposed to have more reserves than the USA. It is only a matter of time before they are all exploited. How will this affect the world?


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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    As I understand it, the process of Fracking uses large amounts of water and chemicals. There are transportation costs associated with supplying this water (my brother worked hauling water for a fracking outfit) and with transportation and disposal of the waste products.

    Fracking is a highly contentious practice in many parts of Canada. I would expect it to be a divisive topic in many other nations as well, especially where water rights are already in question and where drought is a concern.


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  4. #3  
    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    I wonder if the fact that fracking still sits in the realm of general public ignorance contributes to this notion that it is the next clean fuel.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Fracking causes underground water supplies to become polluted plus as was already mentioned it uses over 7 million gallons a day per well to get the gas out. This doesn't seem to be a very prudent thing to be doing.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    In addition, doesn't it cause natural gas that was trapped underground to leak into the atmosphere left and right outside the point where it is captured by the industry?
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    Documented cases of actual water sources being contaminated by fracking are quite few including at places nationally televised as having a serious problem where no significant problems were found (e.g. Pennsylvania).

    It does appear though that despite the low risk, this has become such an emotional subject fueled by falsehoods from the environmental movement, somewhat similar to nuclear power, where despite the facts, people will shut down fracking in state after state and might well insist on national a moratorium in the next few years.
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    It does appear though that despite the low risk,
    I know the "tap water on fire" stuff is spectacular, but it annoys me a bit.

    The real problem with the gas industry is their total failure to account for escaped gas at the wells. (Quite apart from their refusal to disclose the chemicals that is going into our long term aquifers.) They allow gas to flow quite freely into the atmosphere at thousands of wells in dozens of countries and then they have the barefaced gall to claim that their emissions are lower than other industries.

    It probably is lower. But not by much. Measuring what's released and accounting for it transparently and then showing that emissions are lower - despite not being as much lower as they now claim would be a better and more responsible "corporate citizen" approach.

    As for a 40 year supply?

    It's worth having a look at the view of an investment adviser* about whether people should invest in unconventional fossil companies.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz9OkTRORWg

    *Note. I find his references to global warming destroying "the planet" quite annoying. But he's not a scientist so I suppose he should get a provisional pass. I just wish people realised that the planet will keep right on doing its thing regardless of what we do, the issue is whether human civilisation can survive the sort of changes that are on the way if we don't change the path we're on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    It does appear though that despite the low risk,
    I know the "tap water on fire" stuff is spectacular, but it annoys me a bit.
    Ow indeed it does for me as well. But, because of geography, between a 3rd and half of wells in Pennsylvania and New York State even without any fracking around, have methane in them--some so high they are capped and abandoned, most others vented so it doesn't become a danger to the homeowner.


    The real problem with the gas industry is their total failure to account for escaped gas at the wells. (Quite apart from their refusal to disclose the chemicals that is going into our long term aquifers.) They allow gas to flow quite freely into the atmosphere at thousands of wells in dozens of countries and then they have the barefaced gall to claim that their emissions are lower than other industries.
    I agree, in the US, the special exemptions for fracking set the stage for much of the paranoa. Overseas fracking, especially in the developing world, is often is either unregulated or unenforced.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; March 26th, 2014 at 12:23 PM.
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    The Yukon Conservation Society is the lead agency for opposition to fracking in the Yukon. There is quite a lot of detail on this issue at the following link for those who may be interested. I am not a member of this organization and post the link purely out of relevence to this discussion.

    Yukon Conservation Society - Energy and Climate Change
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    As I understand it, the process of Fracking uses large amounts of water and chemicals.
    Yep. Natural gas is definitely a cleaner source of energy than coal, but we have a ways to go to solve the problems with (for example) fracking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by billvon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    As I understand it, the process of Fracking uses large amounts of water and chemicals.
    Yep. Natural gas is definitely a cleaner source of energy than coal, but we have a ways to go to solve the problems with (for example) fracking.
    "Cleaner" than coal but nowhere near clean enough to be an effective climate solution. Less GHG emissions than coal but still far too much to slow climate change much. Even as an interim bridging technology - presuming that it actually replaces enough coal to result in lower emissions - it leaves much to be desired.

    Having invested in gas plant to replace (I suspect old and headed for closure anyway) coal, will the owners and operators be supporters of ongoing emissions reductions that these plants cannot deliver? Willing to shut down when the sun is shining or wind blowing?

    I see stranded assets in the best case. In the worst - most likely case if this industry has it's way - failure to deliver the required emissions reductions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    "Cleaner" than coal but nowhere near clean enough to be an effective climate solution. Less GHG emissions than coal but still far too much to slow climate change much. Even as an interim bridging technology - presuming that it actually replaces enough coal to result in lower emissions - it leaves much to be desired.
    Agreed. However, aside from nuclear it's the best short term option we have.
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  14. #13  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    There was an article in New Scientist a while back on fracking. It pointed out that almost all claims of harm are just claims without empirical backing.

    It appears that the chance to stop burning coal makes for a great gain environmentally.
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    That's all very well and good, but what are they going to do in 40 years time when it all runs out?

    That's the trouble with a finite resource. It will run out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    That's all very well and good, but what are they going to do in 40 years time when it all runs out?
    It's mostly methane, which is also actually pretty easy to make and will ease the transition to renewable forms at minimal expense of switching the infrastructure.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    That's all very well and good, but what are they going to do in 40 years time when it all runs out?
    It's mostly methane, which is also actually pretty easy to make and will ease the transition to renewable forms at minimal expense of switching the infrastructure.
    Ah, I didn't know that. Well I guess dairy farms will have a new niche to fill, then. Cow goes "moo" from both ends.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    As a side note, I have read information along the lines that

    "The problem with unconventional shale gas is that it does not behave at all like conventional gas reserves. It depletes dramatically fast after an initial output surge rather than slowly over years. The trick is to get out* before the bubble pops."

    *sell it (to someone who will use past data and the hype to predict/evaluate what hes buying)

    Which, if true, would incite groups owning the right to the shale gas to hype the potential so they can profit from the initial gravy train and sell it (to suckers that will find the output fizzle out to a combination of environmental-cost/maintenance/liability with low/no profits).
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