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RE: As prices rise, concerns grow about world oil supplies


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RE: As prices rise, concerns grow about world oil supplies
Topic: Current Events 7:02 pm EDT, May 23, 2004

Decius wrote:

] In 2000, natural gas reserves in the United States were
] estimated to be 1,190 trillion cubic feet, and U.S. gas
] production was 19.2 trillion cubic feet.

] 61 years...

Nice find. And the graph showing the steady level of proved reserves was enlightening as well. I guess this means that "proved" reserves should be analogous to "what the market will bear." Still, we've burned through almost 1000 tcf of natural gas over the course of using it. That's putting us at the halfway mark if you consider the total reserves, not just proved. Those figures do not take into consideration how much of it will be left in the ground either. Surely we cannot recover all of it. We could, but will it take more money and energy to extract than what it is worth or what energy it yields? These questions though, they are ones we will not have answers to until more time elapses. I would caveat looking at total reserves just as you caveat looking at proved reserve figures.

Consumption keeps rising at a fairly linear rate. I understand what you are saying about 1 well on a 100 unit field versus say, 2 wells each on 50 unit fields. In that case, it is not particularly alarming from a pure arithmetic standpoint. But consider that you may now be expending twice the energy to produce the same unit amount. Each well takes energy to create, operate, maintain, and decommission. What these studies lack is a granular breakdown of each field and where the EROEI ratios are trending. If market rates are any indication, those ratios are falling.

As the production switches from conventional to unconventional gas reserves, the economic cost will rise and the EROEI ratios will fall. I know that's a blanket statement that doesn't account for technological advance, but history bears it out as true so far. If it were economical, these reserves wouldn't be unconventional. The sharp rise in NG prices is reflecting this trend. That and the ramp up of LNG imports on the horizon.

As this happens, everything is going to become more expensive. This is something that even the "proved" reserve figures probably do not adequately account for. But the point has not be lost that you just made, that "proved" reserves should be considered in concert with other factors.

Delving into the political landscape for just a second, we might believe that the war is affecting these trends. Surely it is, but take a look around. I don't believe this war is going to end. Our leaders say as much. Consider that outside influencing factor a constant from here on out.

] Some wells are easier to tap then others. Cheaper
] transportation costs are a huge factor. In the US much of our
] supply is on federal lands and is illegal to tap.

Transportation ties in with the point you made above about the 61 year supply. It's nice to know we have reserves, but getting them to market is a different story. Where are the reserves located? Where are the fastest growing population centers geographically located? In other words, where is the demand in relation to the supply?

According to the 2000 census, in descending order they are: Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho. Three out of those five do not have any non-conventional deposits that were listed. Of note, California added 4.1 million people to their population between 1990 and 2000.

A quick glance at the maps from the last link you sent me shows the majority of unconvential reserves to be in the Tight Gas category, 21%. CBM and shales tie for second at ~5% each. Nevada, Arizona, and Idaho do not have any of these deposits. California is dry as well.

What will it take to build the infrastructure to get the gas or energy to market? Are we going to run pipelines, liquify the gas, or build power lines? The answers to these logistical questions will weigh heavily on the economic costs and EROEI ratios.

] Furthermore, there are new technologies for extracting natural
] gas that have nothing to do with wells.

Which new extraction technologies are you referring to? I'd like to research them.

] Methane hydrates are the most recent form of unconventional
] natural gas to be discovered and researched. These interesting
] formations are made up of a lattice of frozen water, which
] forms a sort of 'cage' around molecules of methane.

] The USGS estimates that methane hydrates may contain more
] organic carbon than the world's coal, oil, and conventional
] natural gas - combined! However, research into methane hydrates
] is still in its infancy. It is not known what kind of effects the
] extraction of methane hydrates may have on the natural carbon
] cycle.

It looks interesting. Do they exist in concentrated deposits? How much of our energy today is produced from them? How quickly could it be ramped up? Is it economically and chemically feasible?

Or, put another way, is this the natural gas equivalent of fusion? Lots of promise, little results.

RE: As prices rise, concerns grow about world oil supplies

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