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Tapping Shale Reserves, US Would Become World's Top Oil Producer By 2017 467

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the where's-al-gore-now dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that according to a report by the International Energy Agency, the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's leading oil producer by about 2017, will become a net oil exporter by 2030, and will become 'all but self-sufficient' in meeting its energy needs in about two decades — a 'dramatic reversal of the trend' in most developed countries. 'The foundations of the global energy systems are shifting,' says Fatih Birol, chief economist at the Paris-based organization, which produces the annual World Energy Outlook. There are several components of the sudden shift in the world's energy supply, but the prime mover is a resurgence of oil and gas production in the United States, particularly the unlocking of new reserves of oil and gas found in shale rock. The widespread adoption of techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has made those reserves much more accessible, and in the case of natural gas, resulted in a vast glut that has sent prices plunging. The agency's report was generally 'good news' for the United States says Michael A. Levi, senior fellow for energy and environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, because it highlights the nation's new sources of energy but Levi cautions that being self-sufficient does not mean that the country will be insulated from seesawing energy prices, since those oil prices are set by global markets. The message is more sobering for the planet, in terms of climate change. Although natural gas is frequently promoted for being relatively low in carbon emissions compared to oil or coal, the new global energy market could make it harder to prevent dangerous levels of warming (PDF). 'The report confirms that, given the current policies, we will blow past every safe target for emissions,' says Levi. 'This should put to rest the idea that the boom in natural gas will save us from that.'" The folks over at The Oil Drum aren't quite so optimistic: shale reserves may have an abysmal EROI. And, of course, Global Warming is a liberal myth.
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Tapping Shale Reserves, US Would Become World's Top Oil Producer By 2017

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  • by aurispector (530273) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:07AM (#41966263)

    When the partisan political aspect of an issue is already included in the original post.

    Bettter to shut down discussions about AGW before they start! It's settled science!

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:19AM (#41966343)

    The problem lies in the fact the issue isn't black and white. Yes fossil fuels cause Global Warming. However we can't get get off the stuff, as Fossil Fuels are a relatively concentrated, and stable form of energy, that can moved and transported and held in long term reserves.
    We cannot go off fossil fuels. Alternative energy isn't there yet. In the mean time we need to use it, and if we can get it from politically safer areas all the better. If we don't have to buy oil from the Middle east, we can set back and watch them kill themselves over their petty differences without much intervention from us.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:33AM (#41966445)

    The main thing that holds back alternative energy sources is their relative price. The potential is there, but it would require vast investments of money which won't happen until that investment is profitable. However, if the cost of fossil fuels included the cost AGW causes then the equation would be different. If fossil fuel sources were taxed to pay for increasingly frequent events like Sandy then alternative fuels would have a chance sooner.

  • by GeneralTurgidson (2464452) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:33AM (#41966455)
    This post and a lot of comments make it seem like the oil produced would stay in our country and only used by us. Yea right, it would be sold to the highest bidder on the market, which will probably be China in a couple of years. Meanwhile our country is turned into a wasteland from this and fracking.
  • by fearofcarpet (654438) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:44AM (#41966561)

    'The report confirms that, given the current policies, we will blow past every safe target for emissions,' says Levi. 'This should put to rest the idea that the boom in natural gas will save us from that.'

    Wait, what? There is an idea that natural gas will curb CO2 emissions? Natural gas may burn "cleaner" and it may have a slighter higher energy density, but that doesn't change the equation: CH4 + 2 O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O. Are we really so bereft of a basic grasp of chemistry to think that the CO2 released from natural gas doesn't count?

    The link in TFA to The Oil Drum questions the whether shale oil can be competitive because of the costs associated with extraction; basically that the oil is too spread out in the shale. Those costs certainly aren't stopping them from trying. Why not put those resources into carbon-neutral energy generation? Fracking? Sure, let's give it a go, I'm like 85% sure it won't contaminate aquifers or cause earthquakes. Deep-water drilling? Sure, I like a good challenge and there's no chance that we'll wreck an entire ecosystem. Shale oil? There's only one way to find out if it's profitable! Solarthermal, biomass, photovoltaic, wind, tidal energy, geothermal? I don't know... sounds risky... and kinda hard... I'm not so sure I can make money with any of those... and I already picked out the paint for my new horizontal drilling rig.

    The agency's report was generally 'good news' for the United States says Michael A. Levi, senior fellow for energy and environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, because it highlights the nation's new sources of energy but Levi cautions that being self-sufficient does not mean that the country will be insulated from seesawing energy prices, since those oil prices are set by global markets

    Why exactly do we need to ramp up oil and gas production when the prices are set by an international cartel? We start pumping fossil fuels into the market and Saudi Arabia and Russia just turn down the facet; prices rise and they're making the same money as before by producing less. Yay, it was worth raping the environment to have no impact on energy prices because we're "self-sufficient" now!

    This headline reads to me like "US Would Become World's Top Phone Booth Producer by 2017." Are we all going to act surprised when that hippie fantasy we call a "green economy" becomes a reality for the EU or China? You know, like we were all shocked that Romney performed exactly as the polls predicted.

    Am I missing something here?

  • Re:"Peak Oil" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ... -retrograde.com'> on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:48AM (#41966593) Homepage

    I agree. Furthermore: Burning Oil is BAD -- No, hear me out. We should be using it to make plastics and other neat stuff, not wasting it as a fuel. I agree we need to use it now, but think of the future, when alternative energies are viable -- We'll curse ourselves for wasting all that valuable material used to make everything from medical supplies to computer screens. We won't stop pumping oil until every last drop is gone, even if we stop using it as a fuel.

  • by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:00AM (#41966737)

    We're freakin' drug addicts :
    we need our daily dose, and when our shady dealer doesn't play fair, we look beneath the couch.
    We find some dirty old bag of crack, and scream "Yeah! We're saved! We solved our problem once and for all!"

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:01AM (#41966745)

    And sometimes they switch aggressor and victim role back and forth.

    Like when they want to bomb Iran for fun, or just dole out a little collective punishment to the Palestinians. As far as I am concerned they are all as guilty as each other.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:10AM (#41966849)

    two words:

    Is Lam

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:18AM (#41966929)

    From here [nakedcapitalism.com]

    They’re going to have to drill hundreds, almost 1000 wells in the Eagleford shale, every year, to keep production flat. Just for one play, we’re talking about $10 or $12 billion a year just to replace supply. I add all these things up and it starts to approach the amount of money needed to bail out the banking industry. Where is that money going to come from? Do you see what I’m saying?"

    The money comes from selling the oil. Either the price of oil rises to where extracting it from the shale is profitable, or the world transitions away from fossil fuels and it stays in the ground.

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:37AM (#41967093)

    The ones with almost zero safety/waste issues who's theory has been known for decades but none have been built...?

    Lots of things that are really simple in theory turn out to be rather complicated in practice. Pebble bed reactors [wikipedia.org] have been mentioned many times as a panacea for nuclear problems. But when the Germans actually build one [wikipedia.org] they had lots of problems that the theorists didn't foresee. The Chinese are trying again [wikipedia.org], but nobody sees PBRs as a silver bullet anymore. Since the beginning of the nuclear age people have put forth "simple" designs that will solve all our problems and make energy too cheap to meter, but reality keeps getting in the way.

  • by microbox (704317) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:43AM (#41967171)

    Fact is, liberals hate oil.

    Some liberals hate oil. The rest of us just love science.

  • by microbox (704317) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:48AM (#41967233)

    Eventually, the costs of alternatives like wind and solar will go down

    Alternative energy will eclipse some traditional energy markets in the next 5 years. (Red-meat conservatives will almost deny that it is happening even as it happens.)

    It will be like saving that pound of really good meat for a special day and forgetting it can spoil.

    Once oil is used, it is used, and there is carbon pollution in the atmosphere. It will stay there for 1000 years, and there is no sane way to extract it. Burning oil has a negative externality which has /never/ been factored into the cost.

  • by rhakka (224319) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:50AM (#41967251)

    but external costs are paid via mechanisms that are NOT included in the cost of the fuel.

    the medical and pollution aspects of fossil fuel use... to say nothing of the global warming costs and, up until recently, our geopolitical control costs (military)... are all costs associated with oil that we pay for via taxes, insurance premiums, and other mechanisms that don't dissuade oil usage per se.

    until those externialities are captured in the cost of a barrel of oil, the playing field against clean alternatives is not level. thus the need for subsidies on clean alternatives. because the free market simply cannot handle external costs in a legitimate way.

  • by microbox (704317) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:53AM (#41967307)

    I'm saying that the very same people who bitch about some endangered fly being harmed by an oil rig don't seem to mind when something they like is built on the same spot.

    You will be able to find some wacko that reifies your pre-existing beliefs. Then you can think of /all/ environmentalists as a bunch of wacko hypocrites, and indulge in sick fantasies about how environmentalists really kill people with their stupidity.

    And then you feel you know something, and therefore don't need to learn anything about what mainstream environmentalists actually think, and what mainstream science actually says, and also some of the successes of the environmental movement.

    Buddhists call this protecting your ignorance.

  • by xtal (49134) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:16AM (#41967587) Homepage

    Why is it those who complain about nuclear power plants never bat an eye at the ~4000 nuclear warheads aimed at people all over the world, ready to do harm with the press of a button, held in place with the same failsafes they deem insufficient?

    Burning oil is stupid. We should be developing nuclear technologies as fast as we can. Instead we'll wait for the oil to be gone.. but I hope we don't wait until we need to use those warheads over oil reserves. Wouldn't that be the ultimate irony?

  • by SandwhichMaster (1044184) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @12:07PM (#41968363) Homepage

    If it (gas) suddenly doubled in price, our economy might collapse.

    This is something that doesn't get noticed enough. You can talk about "Drill baby drill", "global warming is a myth", etc. all you want, but at the end of the day, it is wildly unwise to have our entire economy based around one technology. We are much better equipped to handle change if we're diversified.

    We've seen oil prices spike too many times not to know better by now.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:45PM (#41970013) Homepage Journal

    We have the technology to replace gasoline with ethanol

    forget ethanol, ethanol is a scam to put money into Monsanto's pockets. Butanol is a 1:1 replacement for gasoline that is made from any organic material by bacteria. BP and DuPont own a holding company called Butamax which they occasionally use to sue Gevo for having the audacity to try to commercially produce butanol over a bullshit patent they never should have been granted on the basis of obviousness.

    To properly use ethanol, we need new engines across the board, every single car on the road. We don't have the resources for that retrofit.

    First, that is a lot of horseshit. There's lots of engines out there right now that could run on E100 with an additive. You see them out on the road with a little "flex fuel" icon on the back of them that means they can run on E85, not that you can even get that anywhere, nor should you want to. Second, high-compression and direct-injection engines can be modified by re-jetting or by reprogramming the ECU. And even diesels can be run on E95 (5% gasoline) if their compression is high enough, and they have a turbocharger, with a timing change and some tweaks to the fuel delivery, and of course a lubricity additive. Most any IDI diesel with a turbo will work.

    Now, replacing diesel with biodiesel or even straight veggie oil, at least in temperate climates, looks much better. The base fuel is easy to make, engine conversion is relatively cheap, and the fuel can even come recycled from restaurants and food factories.

    It looks much better because you haven't done it. Veg oil leads to gumming and coking. Biodiesel is a great solution though, as is "green diesel" which is traditional diesel fuel made from veg oil as a feedstock instead of crude. And you can run on veg if you occasionally run on biodiesel to clean your engine, so it's not actually all bad, it's a real working fuel. But it does decrease service lifetimes of a whole lot of parts, and the blowby (there is always blowby) spoils petro-based crankcase lube over time, and so far I have not managed to locate a source for bio-based diesel-grade engine oil in the USA.

    Unfortunately, the "environmentalists" who run California are extremely hostile to diesels.

    That is extremely true. They are also fairly hostile to biodiesel; they've recently classified vegetable oil as being something close to gasoline in terms of spill hazard. It's not like it's benign, there are issues, but it's nowhere near that bad.

    In any case, you should educate yourself regarding biofuels a bit more before making too many declarative statements about them. You clearly haven't done the research.

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