The Future of Oil is in Shale

The Future of Oil is in Shale

As we clamour and pay off our citizenry to fight over our meagre oil finds, the world seems to be looking for alternatives to our age old energy sources controlled by Russia and the Middle East.

Environmentalists have tried to shift the focus into more greener sources of energy but have found that the status quo deems that not only an expensive venture but unreliable and not enough to meet the growing demand of the 2nd world economies who are gunning for the 1st world status in the next 5 decades.

The next big thing in energy [ and in what i see as the next “conflict – initiator” ] is shale gas. Natural gas extracted from shale rock formations has become the fastest-growing source of gas in the United States and other countries throughout the world are now evaluating how they can harness this emerging energy source – Chevron. The U.S.A estimates that it has 2,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. A quarter of this is held in shale rock and its estimated that it will provide 50% of the US gas production by the year 2050.

Until recently, technology has been the inhibiting factor in extraction of shale gas however over the past twenty years scientists have come up with ways of extracting this gas economically. The two methods, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are now being used by many oil companies around the world for extraction.

“The entire shale fracking endeavour began as a somewhat quixotic, patriotic ambition within fledgling federal energy research programs. Scientists had long understood the geology of shales and knew there was gas to be had But everyone assumed it was unreachable. There’s a reason that the shale gas, tight sands gas, and other natural gas deposits that now make up half of U.S. gas production are still called “unconventional”. With domestic gas production on the decline in the 1970’s and policy-makers eager for alternatives to imported oil, shale gas was one of several such radical resource bases that federal geologists tried to tap.” – [ quote from Fareed Zakaria’s – What we’re reading in http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com  ] 

So what is Fracking? Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.

Graphic from http://www.propublica.org/
Graphic from http://www.propublica.org/

However environmentalists have had a problem with the way fracking is done especially with the chemicals used. The mixture of sand water and these chemicals underground they say will may cause contamination of fresh water aquifers that provide water for much of the population living near the fracking sites. Being non-degradable it may also cause contamination to the ground below. Many of the oil companies recycle the fracking water they recover afterwards much some of it is disposed off due to contamination and this remaining water is what is of concern to the environmentalists.

stop-fracking1

So question is if Kenya does find enough oil, will export demand reduce significantly from the west that local demand  remains the only viable alternative or is our local demand economically viable? Whatever the case focus in the coming decades will definitely be on shale gas especially in the west and the Middle East will now have to curve out a market in the emerging markets in Africa and the far east if it has to sustain the control and profits it has made for the past 70 years from almost total control of the oil energy market.

And for those who want to know more about fracking here is more for you

Kenya – Energy Data http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=ke

Fracking explained – opportunity or danger [Video] http://vimeo.com/74267909

Fracking [Wikipedia] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing

Environment issues in the USA http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic … king-sites

The Fracking Debate in UK media and Government http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ … an-cameron

Hippies http://www.dangersoffracking.com/

Post author

The RocKe Scientist is an award winning earth science platform based in Kenya.

There are 2 Comments

  1. Posted by JP Reply

    interesting

  2. Posted by Enock Reply

    amazing read

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