I note from my usual stream of articles that some have been triumphantly declaring that Peak Oil is dead. For instance, this one cites Citigroup in the US, who have compiled a report stating that the shale oil and fracking phenomenon is the answer to the country’s energy problems. No longer does the US have to rely on cheap oil imports as it now has its own energy independence. All thanks to that good old staple of human ingenuity and improved technology.
So the ‘doom-sayers’, so they argue, have it all wrong. Like Daniel Yergin says, there will be oil. And from a worldwide perspective, this is good news. For instance, take the technique known as ‘Fracking’, which uses high pressurized liquids to literally blast natural gas out of fissures in the ground. Apparently, so the article says, the British Geological Survey stated early this year that it was ‘extremely unlikely’ that fracking could contaminate groundwater. And there’s a lot of natural gas to be found in shale deposits in the UK.
So that’s okay then! Bon Voyage Peak Oil – and, oh dear, my book stuffed as well! Well only half-so, there’s still Climate Change. (Oh hang on! That’s questionable as well, according to the Daily Express! Ah well, it is only science-fiction after all…)
Not so fast. You see, I have my own doubts about the safety of fracking despite whatever the BGS says. Besides, it still said ‘extremely unlikely’ – still a margin of error for it being dangerous then? Also, I still wonder about the wisdom of pumping high pressure liquids into deep recesses in the earth. Maybe just a layman’s way of thinking, but I hope it doesn’t have an adverse effect on any natural faults that just happen to be in the same place. Well, I’m sure they have geologists advising the operations who know what they’re doing (finger’s crossed!)
But never mind my potentially mis-informed musings. There is a well researched answer to this nice piece of cornocopian good news. An article on Smart Planet gives a sobering assessment of the Citigroup report and reveals it to be quite amateurish in reality. It seems there are some very naive assumptions about the potential of these so-called ‘new discoveries’. The reality is – and this is what I was thinking about the old issue of EROEI – that the new sources are actually quite expensive to extract and refine, and they certainly do not provide the level of cheap oil in the long-term that would be required to supply the West’s current levels of consumption. Plus the fact that we’ll be competing, in terms of demand, with the oil-hungry emerging economies of China and India.
The fact of the matter is that the new shale and what are known as ‘tight’ oil reserves will not be enough to be able to stave off the highly possible series of oil shocks that are on the way, so the article claims. My gut feeling has always been that shale and fracking are acts of desperation. I don’t trust them and sure as heck wouldn’t invest in either of these. I reckon something like solar panels in the desert might be a better bet. Possibly.
I won’t steal either articles’ thunder. Check them out for yourself and you decide: