Natural Gas – So Abundant, Even Hollywood Has Been Bitten By The Excitement Bug
Natural gas is so abundant that it can supply about 20% of the United States energy demand for the next 100 years before it runs out! (That is my translation of the recent meme being pushed by those new commercials about having a 100 year supply – at current rates of consumption.)
A friend just sent me a link to a trailer for a movie titled Haynesville that is all about the economic excitement and dislocations that are resulting from development of advanced methods of extraction of natural gas from tight shale formations like the Haynesville formation that is under a large chunk of the Southern United States. Here is that trailer:
Note: I turned off the auto-start setting. If you want to view the trailer, please click on the play arrow. Once you have seen the trailer, please think about the lengths that some people might go to if they recognize the competitive threat that new nuclear power plants pose for the development of a natural gas field that some claim contains $1.75 TRILLION dollars worth of gas – if the developers can find enough willing customers.
Do you practice being wrong Rod?
NG has its place in the generating mix but it can not compete with base load nukes at the the cost of producing tight gas or importing LNG. The is no more $2/MMBTU sitting around waiting for a 20 year contract.
Go back 10-15 years and NG was a threat to nuke plants run by clowns (is that nicer than saying they were criminally inept) who could not keep the plant on the line. Back then, the NG industry said that the ceiling was $4/MMBTU.
I estimate that it takes a 1000+ NG rigs drilling (an observation not an expert’s prediction) to maintain the demand for NG with a healthy economy. On the other hand, the infrastructure to maintain 20% nukes has huge over capacity. Good if you are buying nuke fuel, bad if you are trying to make a profit manufacturing it.
Fool – you voted for Obama. That’s why you got this mess. Natural gas commercials, wind mills and solar cells. Global warming idiocy that we KNOW is false. Damn fool you are Rod for voting for the evil wicked man. As long as he’s in office there will be NO new nukes. NONE.
Trolls will be trolls, I suppose. Where’s the predictable (off-topic) comment about abortion, Anon?
My issue with this movie after viewing the trailer and reviewing the information on the website is that the filmmaker went from a documentary perspective to a cheerleader for natural gas. He is either championing natural gas as a means to advertise his film or is advertising his film as a means of championing natural gas. By his own admission, the making of the film transitioned from a film about the change that might occur in Louisiana as the field is drilled to a film about energy.
The filmmaker discusses nuclear power in his blog but makes two interesting comments. The first is a film on nuclear energy could be his next film if, and I quote, “?you’re interested in looking at an investor package”
That raises the question on where his funding for THIS movie came from. It looks like the film is becoming a darling of “green” energy groups since it is getting prominent airplay at Copenhagen and other similar GHG venues. Are the investors in Haynesville “green energy” groups who are actually anti-nuclear front organizations or are the investors in actuality behind-the-scenes natural gas promoters, or both? These types of films, with this level of marketing and professionalism, take significant amounts of money to produce and he is marketing this film under labels such as ?green energy? and ?clean energy?.
The other comment I found interesting is that the filmmaker states he is a child of the Three Mile Island era and the China Syndrome movie who was ?finely tuned to not like the idea of nuclear energy?; however his opinion has thawed apparently as part of making this movie. I would be interested in hearing the filmmaker fully lay out his opinion of nuclear power especially in relationship to the limited lifespan of fossil fuel fields. No matter how much is in this field, it is a finite field.
I would also like to hear why the filmmaker believes we should use natural gas, which is an emitter of greenhouse gases, instead of nuclear if he is truly concerned about eliminating GHG?s. I question his level of concern about eliminating or reducing GHG since he appears to be a recent convert to the goal only as part of marketing his film and parrots the line that wind and solar tied to natural gas is a path to a ?cleaner energy future?. On the other hand, he does make the comment that natural gas can be transition towards full scale nuclear which is what Progress Energy is going to do.
I’d like to see this movie to get a complete picture of it’s message. From what the trailer shows, I find it a bit concerning. We see some ordinary folks getting giddy over the idea that they too might get rich on their land. I suspect they will all be sorely disappointed. I find this gold rush mentality disturbing because it (un)consciously hinders the advancements that could make oil and gas as boring as salt is now (to borrow a phrase from James Woosley).
I prefer the energy business model that nuclear offers: less fuel intensive but with a lot more highly skilled brain power. Education and economic development are what these folks ought to be getting excited about. Nuclear energy can provide those opportunities with far less impact on the environment.
Natural gas is a great resource that shouldn’t be squandered when there is a better choice to do the job of producing electricity or heat. They mention this find could “power the country for 30 years.” Somewhere I read the existing stockpile of spent nuclear fuel could power our existing fleet for 30 years if recycled. With gas and nuclear each having about 20% of the electricity share in the USA, that 30 year comparison ought to be considered in the larger scheme. Thus spent nuclear fuel isn’t waste, it’s a 30 year energy supply waiting to be tapped into.
Jason – your estimate is valid if the used fuel is recycled into MOX and used in exactly the same kind of reactors. However, the material could produce far more energy if recycled in plants that achieve higher burn-ups and fuel utilization. The material still contains 95-97% of the initial potential energy; it can produce about 20 times as much power as it already has.
In refined reactors, our used nuclear fuel represents about 600 years worth of power at a rate of 800 billion kilowatt hours per year. If you add the far larger inventory of “depleted” uranium (roughly 1,000,000 tons vice 70,000 tons or so worth of used fuel), you are talking well in excess of a 1000 years worth of a much larger portion of our energy demand from material that is already mined and above ground.
The latest “The Oil Drum” blog entry has a HUGE discussion on uranium supplies. Not some bad back and forth high end data being offered up. See:
The allure of fortunes from shale gas and antipathy for nuclear from natural gas interests has not yet evidenced itself in Louisiana politics
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) 3rd term Democrat from Louisiana is one of the clearest and most effective voices advocating inclusion of more nuclear energy in Congressional energy planning. Popular wisdom is that where the preponderance of the money is the politics will eventually follow. All I could say for now is that a prejudicial anti-nuke pro-gas bias cannot be detected in the voting and legislative leadership of Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Robert – Senator Landrieu is indeed one of the stronger voices for inclusion of nuclear in future energy plans. Though my knowledge of Louisiana politics is pretty shallow, I also recall some very strong support – that continues today, I believe – from one of her predecessors as a Louisiana senator, J. Bennet Johnson. Nuclear energy has also received strong support from Alaska Senators Frank and now Lisa Murkowski, both of whom have deep ties to the petroleum energy business.
My suspicion that many who fight against nuclear energy are really motivated by a desire to maintain the dominance of fossil fuels does not lead me to believe that EVERYONE who has an interest in fossil fuels fights against nuclear energy. In fact, I know that the oil/gas industry has made some investments in various parts of the nuclear industry – ExxonMobil was once a major supplier of uranium and nuclear fuel fabrication, Gulf owned General Atomics, Kerr-McGee recycled plutonium and employed Karen Silkwood, BP still owns uranium mining properties, Shell was invested in General Atomics for a number of years, even our friend Kit talks of his support for nuclear energy.
Economics and politics are intertwined and complicated. I still believe that the marketing and corporate leadership arms of the coal, oil, and gas industries are fully versed in the law of supply and demand and recognize that rapid growth in nuclear power output will come at their expense in the energy market. How could it not affect their market share and sales volume, since they dominate 85% of the market today?
The people in the business who understand how they make money and know their history also recognize quite clearly that the first nuclear build up resulted in some very lean times.
I think the key to confirming Rod’s suspicion is that oil-fired generation in this country practically ended (outside of a few areas in the Northeast – where the anti-nuclear movement was the strongest) as the Generation II nuclear reactors were brought online. The oil plants got kicked to the curb. Also, what happened in France (another very major oil for power market prior to the Arab oil crisis) also might have had something to do with it.
There went the market for bunker oil. So oil companies had to dispose of it in other ways at lower prices or invest in expensive upgrading units to crack it into higher-grade product. Luckily for them, the shipping industry provided an ongoing market for bunker oil, though this might not last forever.
I was happy with your insightful response to my comment and agree with it.
I wish I was able to find a way of moving from suspicion that fossil fuel – natural gas interests are conspiring to do all they can to retard development of new nuclear power plants. It would be more comfortable to go from informed suspicion to irrefutable evidence. Developing a trail of solid evidence would require real work in the best tradition of investigative reporting. So far, the truth is I am too lazy to put in the required effort.
Robert – Proving the relationship between those who sell fossil fuels and those who oppose nuclear power is indeed a challenging exercise that may never been fully complete. You can search Atomic Insights for “smoking gun” to find documented tidbits of information.
I have convinced myself. At this point, I would demand the same standard of evidence that the nuclear opposition often uses – can the gas industry prove that they are NOT supporting anti-nuclear efforts?
I am a petroleum geologist in training, and do most of my work on black shales, tight sandstones, and geopressurized brines. People do not understand how much natural gas is available in unconventional reservoirs, with geopressurized reservoirs that may be economically tapped at this point with current technologies we are talking about a source that can be almost 10 times that of conventional natural gas with a resource numbering at 200 times all other sources of natural gas except for methane hydrates. Even coal seams and kerogen deposits that are uneconomic to mine can be converted to methane from abiogenic bacteria. But the rate of extraction will be MUCH LOWER than in conventional reservoirs since the permeability requires so much fracturing and hence gives it a long life expectancy for most fields (except in the Barnett where they have been successful in pumping up the rate of extraction considerably, but this may not extend to other basin centered systems.
The issue of whether gas is plentiful is settled; it is very plentiful. The issue of whether to burn it for electrical power and to heat homes instead of using nuclear power plants with district heating applications is another issue. In this case, nuclear power and especially factory built modular units are the way to go in order to lower the cost and speed up construction.
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