Drill, baby, drill?

A new report from the Post Carbon Institute looks beyond the rhetoric to examine the question “Can unconventional fuels usher in a new era of energy abundance?”

It concludes that:

* The reduction in US energy imports results primarily not from their use of unconventional fuels (shale gas etc.) but from economic decline and recession.

* The rate of energy supply (that is, the rate at which the resources can be produced) for unconventional fuels is very low.

* The net energy yield (that is, the difference between the energy needed to produce the fuel, and the energy contained in the final product) for unconventional fuels is also very low.

* Shale gas production in the US has been on a plateau since December 2011.

* 80 percent of shale gas production in the US comes from five plays, several of which are in decline.

* The very high decline rates of shale gas wells require continuous inputs of capital – estimated at $42 billion per year to drill more than 7,000 wells in order to maintain production. In comparison, the value of shale gas produced in 2012 was just $32.5 billion.

Does this sound like an industry that will benefit Northern Ireland’s economy or like a bubble waiting to burst?

Read the summary of the report here or the full report here.

Photograph: Fracking in Texas, by Tim Lewis (http://www.aireindustrial.net/) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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