Energy crisis over - for 250 years?
Lots more gas than we thought, say US scientists
The "Energy Crisis" is over, according to some analyses, with new gas discoveries securing supplies for as much as 250 years.
Conventional gas reserves peaked in 1970, which made the "dash for gas" in the late 1980s, with gas replacing oil and coal for power generation, seem particularly short-sighted at the time. The UK led the trend, but gas production from North Sea fields has been falling steadily.
In 2002 the Royal Academy of Engineering predicted blackouts within two years, as supplies dwindled.
The dash for gas doesn't seem quite so short-sighted now.
The US Energy Information Administration takes a conservative view, estimating that reserves are 40 per cent larger than previously thought, if shale is included. The figure for technically recoverable reserves is now six times greater than the proven reserves.
The big winners include Argentina with 774 trillion cubic feet, South Africa, with 485, Poland, with 187, France with 180, and the North Americas. Canada (385) the USA (862) and Mexico (681) have vast reserves. China (1,275) has the largest. Australia's domestic energy production will benefit from 396 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable reserves.
By comparison, North Sea reserves are around 20 trillion cubic feet. The UK's consumption in 2009 was 3.11 tcf.
According to the EIA, the US has anyway 50 years' gas supplies. The UK could return to self-sufficiency in gas at least in the shorter term,
Not all producers were surveyed - Russia, for example, Central Africa or the Middle East.
Shale or 'deep gas' is excavated using two techniques, fracturing or "fracking", and horizontal drilling, to find gas several thousand feet lower than using conventional sources.
UK exploration is taking place near Blackpool, with the Cuadrilla consortium expected to report its results in July. It's already said the shale seam is much thicker than estimated by the Royal Geological Society. ®
250 years at steady consumption.
But consumption isn't steady. It's rising. And that's before noticing that there's four or five billion people looking to drastically up their daily energy consumption as soon as they can afford it and/or it becomes available to them. And their success will mean yet more people on the planet, wanting in on it too. Refusing them that "right", meaning to them being refused entrance to the developed countries club, is not an option. It'll mean war.
So I sit here in my comfy room commentarding away, reflecting that even the measly two thousand years of not-really western civilisation is but a drop in the ages of humans having been around. Those gas reserves, like the oil reserves, took a ridiculous multiple of even that to form. And it'll be gone in what, fifty, maybe a hundred years? Provided our tech base lasts that long, of course. But assuming that, it still seems a poor show to just use it all up in that short a time period. Can we please get a move on with finding better ways to power our 'leccy habit?
Like what? Like I don't really care what. We need options. So let's find more options. Not through silly solar and wind subsidies. That's just for show, for the fuzzy warm feeling of being all environmental, baby. Through long-term investment in research. We've got fifty years before we need to start to scramble. Surely we can figure out a thing or two in that time.
That'll be one of them cultural things then I guess?
I knew implicitly that the article was referring to gas as in the UK the gas we burn in our cookers and boilers is... well, a gas. The fuel we put in our cars is either petrol, diesel or LPG* and is a liquid 'Merkins referring to petrol as gas has always puzzled me as... well, it's a liquid. Granted 'step on the liquid' doesn't have the same ring to it, but 'Punch it Chewy' still works just as well...
*I'll admit that LPG kind of muddies my argument as it is only a liquid under compression.
Isn't that the same as "barely feasible to recover and will result in an enormous filthy mess out of all proportion to the energy benefit we get from the gas"?