Suppose that fracking really is a bubble
Briefly, Food & Water Watch finds that:
- The popular claim that the United States has 100 years worth of natural gas presumes not only that no place would be off-limits to drilling and fracking, but also that highly uncertain estimates of domestic natural gas resources are accurate;
- Even assuming that the industry’s dreams of unrestricted drilling and fracking for natural gas come true and that resource estimates prove accurate, plans to increase the rate of consumption of U.S. natural gas easily cut the claim to 50 years, well within the lifetime of college students today;
- Among these plans are 19 proposals, as of October 26, 2012, to sell U.S. natural gas on foreign markets to maximize oil and gas profits. Combined, these proposals alone mean that annual natural gas exports could reach the equivalent of over 40 percent of total U.S. consumption of natural gas in 2011; and
- Even if the highly uncertain estimates of “tight oil” reserves prove accurate, and even if the oil and gas industry wins unrestricted access to drill and frack for oil, the estimated reserves would amount to a supply of less than seven years.
If this is true, it's got interesting implications for fracking activists:
1. They're going to get proven right quite rapidly;
2. It makes "go slow for heatlh" arguments that much more compelling.
Further, 3., if it is true that shale fields are being "fracked out" faster than expected, that might be detectable from the behavior of crews at the sites (fracking is labor intensive, remember). I'm reasoning by analogy to the book Twilight in the Desert, whose author analyzed the technical papers from the Saudi oil companies, and found they were covering subjects and operations appropriate to declining fields (like how to pump water into a field to get the oil to float up to where the drills could get at it, to radically simplify based on hazy memory). If shale oil, then, is running out faster than expected, that should be covered in the technical literature, but it should also be evident from behaviors at the well heads -- which aren't out in the desert, but are in our own backyards.
Just a thought...