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A reality check on the shale revolution

Nature, vol.494 pp.307-308, 21/02/2013


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Resource information:
Resource IDhughes2013
Resource titleA reality check on the shale revolution
Author(s)J. David Hughes
Publication/ sourceNature, vol.494 pp.307-308
Date published21/02/2013
Summary text/ abstractThe 'shale revolution' – the extraction of gas and oil from previously inaccessible reservoirs – has been declared an energy game changer. It is offsetting declines in conventional oil and gas production, with shale gas being heralded as a transition fuel to a low-carbon future, and shale oil as being capable of reinstating the United States as the largest oil producer in the world, eliminating the need for foreign imports. These heady claims have been largely accepted by government forecasters, including the International Energy Agency and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The oil firm BP predicts that production of shale gas will treble and shale oil – also known as 'tight oil' – will grow sixfold from 2011 levels by 2030. The claims do not stand up to scrutiny. In a report published this week by the Post Carbon Institute in Santa Rosa, California, I analyse 30 shale-gas and 21 tight-oil fields (or 'plays') in the United States, and reveal that the shale revolution will be hard to sustain. The study is based on data for 65,000 shale wells from a production database that is widely used in industry and government. It shows that well and field productivities exhibit steep declines. Production costs in many shale-gas plays exceed current gas prices, and maintaining production requires ever-increasing drilling and the capital input to support it.
Library categoriesClimate Change, Economics, Energy, Extreme Energy, Peak Oil
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