Shale gas

There is a lot of hype around shale gas. It is impossible for me to give you the facts on this topic. It might be a huge resource, which would be depressing from an atmospheric perspective. Or it might turn out to be a share market game.


the Australian government has recently estimated there may be as much as 400 trillion cubic feet (11.3 trillion cubic meters) of shale gas in the country.

Shale gas bubble?

There is a lot of hype around shale gas. Now some people are wondering if it is yet another bubble set to burst.

The Reality is that the so-called shale revolution is nothing more than a bubble, driven by record levels of drilling, speculative lease & flip practices on the part of shale energy companies, fee-driven promotion by the same investment banks that fomented the housing bubble, and by unsustainably low natural gas prices. Geological and economic constraints – not to mention the very serious environmental and health impacts of drilling – mean that shale gas and shale oil (tight oil) are far from the solution to our energy woes.

Map of shale gas wells

Their map of all the shale gas wells  in USA makes alarming reading. Each well is shown with it's production and drop off rate. You need to zoom in to see the wells.

Quotes from

Diminishing returns

the average depletion rate of wells in the Bakken Formation (the largest tight oil play in the US) is 69% in the first year and 94% over the first five years.

Drilling treadmill

This steep rate of depletion requires a frenetic pace of drilling, just to offset declines. Roughly 7,200 new shale gas wells need to be drilled each year at a cost of over $42 billion simply to maintain current levels of production. And as the most productive well locations are drilled first, it’s likely that drilling rates and costs will only increase as time goes on.

Unsustainable prices

Wall Street promoted the shale gas drilling frenzy which resulted in prices lower than the cost of production and thereby profited [enormously] from mergers & acquisitions and other transactional fees. The oil and gas industry is now demonstrating reticence to engage in further shale investment, abandoning pipeline projects, IPOs and joint venture projects.

A shale bubble

As a result of these realities – high depletion rates, the need to drill ever more wells to maintain production, decreasingly productive wells as the best locations are drilled and depleted, and the higher prices required to justify this investment – our country will have drilled and fracked our way down a blind alley (with huge associated economic and environmental costs) for a short-lived energy boom.


Shale gas bubble

A report by the Post Carbon Institute looked at 60,000 wells and came to the following conclusion.

 North America shows that they will inevitably fall short of such expectations, for two main reasons: First, shale gas and shale oil wells have proven to deplete quickly, the best fields have already been tapped, and no major new field discoveries are expected; thus with average per-well productivity declining and ever-more wells (and fields) required simply to maintain production, an “exploration treadmill” limits the long-term potential of shale resources. Second, although tar sands, deepwater oil, oil shales, coalbed methane, and other non-conventional fossil fuel resources exist in vast deposits, their exploitation continues to require such enormous expenditures of resources and logistical effort that rapid scaling up of production to market-transforming levels is all but impossible; the big “tanks” of these resources are inherently constrained by small “taps.”  Source

Download executive summary

Shale gas worldwide


The development of shale gas extraction could change world energy markets, offering potentially ample supplies that would otherwise tighten in coming years.

In the United States, where hydraulic fracturing or fracking drilling technology is most widely used, it could flip the country from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter.

But shale gas extraction requires large amounts of water and chemicals, and environmental concerns have led some governments to ban its use or put moratoriums in place.

Here is an alphabetical list of key countries with shale gas reserves and their governments' legal positions on the fracking technology.


At around 774 trillion cubic feet of estimated recoverable reserves, the South American country is likely to have the world's third-biggest reserves in unconventional gas behind China and the United States, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The government has launched its Gas Plus program, which promises to give a price guarantee for newly discovered gas.

There are about 50 projects approved under the scheme, many of which correspond to non-conventional gas fields.




The UK government backed the exploration of shale gas in April, nearly a year after it suspended domestic shale drilling activity when exploration work triggered small earthquakes near Blackpool in northwest England in May.


After reviewing a report into the incident commissioned by Cuadrilla Resources, the company responsible for the work, the government published its own report which gave a provisional green light to shale gas fracking provided tighter rules on seismic monitoring and drilling surveys were implemented.

The energy ministry is inviting public comment on the report's findings until the end of May 2012, after which it will issue its final ruling on the future of UK shale gas exploration.

Bulgaria & Romania

The Bulgarian government in January banned shale oil and gas exploration through hydraulic fracturing due to environmental concerns following widespread protests.

The government cancelled a shale gas exploration permit to Chevron at Novi Pazar field for which estimates showed reserves of 1 to 3.5 tcf.

Romania's shale gas industry is still at an early stage, and the country currently has no specific legislation in place and instead uses the same laws that apply to its conventional gas sector.



China in January approved shale gas as an independent mining resource, a legal status that may allow more Chinese firms to develop the unconventional energy source.

Foreign companies would not be able to participate in the tenders but could partner with the winning Chinese firms.

The world's top energy user could hold shale gas reserves around 1,275 tcf, according to the EIA, exceeding those of the United States (862 tcf).



The French government banned the use of hydraulic fracturing last year in the face of concerns about potential environmental damage.

As a result, it has cancelled several shale exploration licences with major energy companies, such as Total SA.

The EIA says France has shale gas reserves of 180 tcf.


Poland does not have any law relating specifically to shale gas, but it has launched work on a new tax on shale gas and other hydrocarbons, expected to be ready in the first half of 2012.

The country is pursuing unconventional gas to boost its energy security.

Its estimated shale reserves of 187 tcf are Europe's biggest of known unconventional gas and could feed domestic consumption for some 300 years. The government has awarded over 100 concessions to mainly foreign companies.


Shale gas drilling in the United States is mostly regulated on a state-by-state basis.

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently studying fracking and its impact on drinking water, with a preliminary report expected this year. The final analysis will be released in 2014.

The Interior Department also is updating rules for fracking on public lands.

A few states do not allow fracking. New Jersey lawmakers recently agreed to a one-year ban on the practice, and New York has a moratorium in place.

Other states have implemented regulations to keep a closer eye on drilling until federal regulators weigh in. Many states, including Texas and Colorado, require at least some disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking.

This article was originally published by Reuters.  Climate spectator.

Australian sha​le gas

Australia has 4,000 million tonnes (396 tcf) of technically recoverable shale gas resources, according to the EIA, equivalent to about 46 per cent of US reserves. One tcf is approximately equivalent to Australia’s annual domestic gas usage.

Widespread fears about the impact of hydraulic fracturing on water supplies in Australia have led to calls for a moratorium on the practice in several states. A temporary moratorium is currently in place in eastern New South Wales.

Australia's shale gas industry has grown in the past few years but is still far from becoming a major gas producer as high costs and a lack of infrastructure to access the far-flung assets remain hurdles to the industry.

Although there has been speculation that shale gas may rival Australia's booming coal seam gas industry, experts say significant production is probably a decade away.

Western Australia (WA) alone was estimated to be holding the fifth largest reserves of shale gas in the world - approximately double the amount of gas held in WA’s offshore conventional fields.

396 tcf = 8GT of CH4 which if burned will produce 3 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.

A report has found that shale gas in Australia will be very expensive because it is so far from any infrastructure.

It will cost about $9 rather than the 2013 price of $4.


Shale gas

Methane can be found in shale and extraction is similar to coal seam fracking.

World wide there is a huge rush to exploit shale gas reserves previously deemed to difficult. More discoveries are being made every week.

Shale gas

Huge deposits have been reported found in South Australia but are not yet been proved.  Linc Energy



Shale extraction costs in Europe will be around 40% higher than in the US. Europe’s shale is generally trapped about 50% deeper than US shale.

There are also many protests against shale fracking.

Exploitation is doubtful at this stage.  Source: Oil Price



Shale gas exploration.jpg50.78 KB