Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists wary of shale oil and gas as U.S. energy salvation

Date:
October 28, 2013
Source:
Geological Society of America
Summary:
After 10 years of production, shale gas in the United States cannot be considered commercially viable, according to scientists. They argue that while the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for "tight oil" is an important contributor to U.S. energy supply, it is not going to result in long-term sustainable production or allow the U.S. to become a net oil exporter.

After 10 years of production, shale gas in the United States cannot be considered commercially viable, according to several scientists presenting at the Geological Society of America meeting in Denver on Monday. They argue that while the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for "tight oil" is an important contributor to U.S. energy supply, it is not going to result in long-term sustainable production or allow the U.S. to become a net oil exporter.

Charles A.S. Hall, professor emeritus at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse, is an expert on how much energy it takes to extract energy, and therefore which natural resources offer the best energy return on investment (EROI). He will describe two studies: one of the global patterns of fossil-fuel production in the past decade, and the other of oil production patterns from the Bakken Field (the giant expanse of oil-bearing shale rock underneath North Dakota and Montana that is being produced using hydraulic fracturing).

Both studies show that despite a tripling of prices and of expenditures for oil exploration and development, the production of nearly all countries has been stagnant at best and more commonly is declining -- and that prices do not allow for any growth in most economies.

"The many trends of declining EROIs suggest that depletion and increased exploitation rates are trumping new technological developments," Hall said.

J. David Hughes, president of the Canadian firm Global Sustainability Research Inc., echoes Hall with an analysis of the Bakken Field and the Eagle Ford Field of Texas, which together comprise more than half of U.S. tight oil production. It shows that drilling must continue at high levels, to overcome field decline rates of 40 percent per year.

Drilling rates of more than 3,000 wells annually in the Eagle Ford, and more than 1,800 wells annually in the Bakken, are sufficient to offset field decline and grow production -- for now. If drilling at these high rates is maintained, production will continue to grow in both fields for a few more years until field decline balances new production. At that point drilling rates will have to increase as "sweet spots" (relatively small high-productivity portions of the total play area) are exhausted and drilling moves into lower-productivity regions, in order to further grow or even maintain production.

The onset of production decline will likely begin before the end of the decade, Hughes said. "These sweet spots yield the high early production observed in these plays, but the steep decline rates inevitably take their toll. "

Arthur E. Berman, a geological consultant for Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc., of Sugar Land, Texas, deems the U.S. 10-year history of shale-gas extraction "a commercial failure. " However, he says, this will not be the case forever. "Prices will increase to, at least, meet the marginal cost of production. More responsible companies will dominate and prosper as the U.S. gas market re-balances and weaker players disappear."

Hughes sums up: "Tight oil is an important contributor to the U.S. energy supply, but its long-term sustainability is questionable. It should be not be viewed as a panacea for business as usual in future U.S. energy security planning."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Geological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Geological Society of America. "Scientists wary of shale oil and gas as U.S. energy salvation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028141516.htm>.
Geological Society of America. (2013, October 28). Scientists wary of shale oil and gas as U.S. energy salvation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028141516.htm
Geological Society of America. "Scientists wary of shale oil and gas as U.S. energy salvation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028141516.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins