Posts tagged “shale gas”
Gazprom, the Russian energy crown jewel, has seen its valuation drop considerably in the last few months in tandem with the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. Investors are having mixed reactions about Russia’s investment environment, though some are still playing roulette. Sanctions against Russian-linked investments must be carefully watched as they have significant valuation outcomes. Russia is now excluded from the June G-8 meeting, which has been moved from its original venue of Sochi.
Interestingly, markets reacted Tuesday, March 25th, by raising the stock price of Gazprom and Lukoil. In fact, Lukoil spiked 6% before coming back down. Markets have settled into the current state of the Russia-West standoff. Shorting Russia, so to speak, potentially shorts many other firms like British Petroleum (BP), Exxon (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and Shell (RDS.B) (RDS.A). Washington could extend sanctions in key industries, which includes Russian energy, if any further challenges are initiated by Russia.
Many in Washington are wishing they had unlocked U.S. natural gas exports earlier. But the issue is receiving center stage with testimony happening today about accelerating liquified natural gas (LNG) exports. As a way to strengthen energy positions, the North American energy trifecta of the U.S., Canada and Mexico need steadfast, well-conceived policies, keeping recent events in mind, but long-term goals front and center. U.S. exports of LNG will not start officially flowing until the end of 2015 through Cheniere’s Sabine Pass facility located on the Louisiana side of the Gulf of Mexico. Another new LNG facility was approved on March 24th in Oregon.
A Rational Middle in Energy Futures
I recently spoke with director Gregory Kallenberg of the energy documentary film series, the “Rational Middle.” In their second round of energy education and outreach, Kallenberg and team address the topics of renewables, shale gas, conservation and transportation, and many others. From the short films, roughly ten to fifteen minutes each, I viewed the renewables, shale gas, and drilling features. They were well done and I intend to view more time permitted, particularly the “days in the life of” and Canada films.
What is useful —whatever part of the energy spectrum one falls into—is the exercise of being open and willing to listen to the arguments. The mere act of spending the time listening to the multiple perspectives offered was an exercise in finding one’s own middle. Hats off to the gesture, both simple and yet complicated, of finding and presenting the middle. The films feature some good academic and think tank-type commentary, of the ones I viewed.
Unique Energy Opportunity if Smart Policies Continue
In the early part of 2008, I began delving into the big story of the day in North Texas and Dallas, the prolific activity from the recovery of natural gas in the Barnett Shale. At the time, other shale plays were being explored as well, such as the Fayetteville play that confirmed the Barnett’s results; the Marcellus was just being sized up. I was challenged with attempting to figure out how to communicate what shale could be physically described as — in essence, a dead ocean from a geologic perspective.
Three things came together that gave tailwinds to today’s “shale revolution.” One was that the government stepped out of the way after many decades of nearly regulating natural gas out of existence. It had created artificially low gas prices, which killed production and confidence in the market until the 1980s and ’90s. The second force was the entrepreneurial spirit in oil and gas exploration, which presides in Texas. A powerhouse of expertise exists here, and these newfound unconventional gas production techniques and know-how spread to the rest of the country and the world. For producers, it was their Google moment.
And finally, technological advances in drilling technology —hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling— combined in the Barnett with independent producers’ experimentation, the innovators like Trevor Rees-Jones of Chief Oil and Mitchell Energy. Their efforts, and those of other operators in the 1980s and ’90s, paved the way for the U.S. gas revolution and its ripple effects across the globe. It was the right combination of economics, opportunity and efforts coming together.
Reduction in Energy-Related CO2 Emissions
The United States has seen a remarkable run in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions over the last five years, reducing energy-related CO2 emissions from 2007 to 2012 by 12%, from six billion tons to 5.29 billion tons. While part of this reduction in emissions is attributable to a reduction in energy demand due to the economic downturn, another reason for this huge reduction is an increase in the use of natural gas for electricity.
In a story that is now familiar to most readers, the shale gas revolution in the United States has dramatically reduced the cost of natural gas. From a peak of $10.54 per million btu (mbtu) in July 2008, the spot price of gas at the well-head had fallen to less than $2/mbtu by April 2012.
Because utilities respond to price incentives, this caused fuel-switching of baseload electricity production from coal to natural gas, leading to a time in April 2012 when natural gas equaled coal as an energy source for the first time. This switch has partially been undone, with coal now producing 40% of electricity and natural gas 26% as gas prices have bounced back to $3.85/mbtu. Because burning natural gas for electricity produces half as much carbon emissions as coal, fuel switching is one of the main causes in the U.S. reduction in emissions.
Here are my choices for the Top 10 energy related stories of 2011. Don’t get too hung up on the relative rankings. They are mostly in no particular order, although I think the top story is pretty obvious. 1. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster On March 11, 2011 the tsunami that flooded Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant resulted in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. The tragedy spurred heated debates over whether nuclear power could ever be totally risk-free. Several countries decided that the potential consequences were just too great, and reversed their plans for new nuclear plants and in some cases shuttered existing plants. The incident will likely slow the global development of nuclear power for years, just as… Continue»
The following is a guest post from OilPrice.com. The subject — China’s foray into hydraulic fracturing — was also the topic of an energy roundtable I participated in this past summer: Roundtable on China’s Energy Future. My view is that the more energy China can produce domestically, the better for everyone as it keeps some pressure off of international energy markets. President Obama apparently agrees, based on the 2009 shale gas technology initiative he signed with Chinese President Hu Jintao. ——————————- China to Embrace Fracking In an Effort to Ramp up Energy Production China is leaving no shale deposit unturned in its effort to develop indigenous energy resources. On 24 November China’s Ministry of Land and Resources geological exploration department… Continue»
Just a note that this weekend I leave for an extended business trip, with visits to Seattle, Washington D.C., Germany, Massachusetts, Vermont, and California. I will be on the road for about four weeks, but will try to keep to my schedule of posting new columns on Mondays and Thursdays. Next Monday I will have a story up on Virent’s progress in producing gasoline from biomass, and following that I have a number of stories and guest posts to choose from. I was recently asked to participate in an energy roundtable at Focus on China’s Energy Future and the Shale Gas Question. It is no secret that I feel that China’s moves stand to continue sending shock waves through the… Continue»
I am back in Hawaii, and over the next couple of days I will climb out from under an avalanche of correspondence. I have a couple of essays to get out, including an interview that I conducted with the CEO from an algae company. What he said may surprise you. Until then, the latest energy-related story from Money Morning. As I previously explained topical Money Morning content will be featured here from time to time. As always, normal caveats apply: I am not an investment advisor. I don’t endorse any specific stocks mentioned in the following story; these stories are meant to spur discussion. —————————–A Money Morning Interview: The Future of Energy Renowned Oil Expert Dr. Kent Moors Details Shortages… Continue»