Shale gas and other forms of tight gas are starting to become real alternatives to crude oil. Look at the Annual Energy Outlook (2011), published by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA): they more than doubled their estimate of technically recoverable shale gas reserves in the US, to over 23 trillion cubic meters from 10.0 trillion cubic meters ( see: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/pdf/0383er(2012).pdf ). That is a lot of gas! If you consider that there are many initiatives to liquefy natural gas, so that gas can be used as a replacement for diesel (for example), is this the way forward?
On the plus side, natural gas is inexpensive, abundant and widespread, and if anything gas is likely to be substantially underestimated in it’s abundance! We could go on living the swinging lifestyles that we have become used to due to the availability of “cheap” crude.
There is a downside. The burning of NG still releases abundant CO2 into the atmosphere. Sure, it is cleaner, but it is not clean. Also, there are environmental concerns regarding fracing and infrastructure intensity, too. Finally, if we pursue natural gas, will this not just mean we more or less stop pursuing clean energy?
T. Boone Pickens, an American resource expert and former CEO of Chevron (among other things) has for several years put forward arguments for the embracing of natural gas. His angle is focused on energy security for the USA. But, he understands the issues. Those interested should search the multimedia and consider his arguments.
What do YOU think?