Fractracker.org has a disturbing animation available showing the proliferation of shale gas wells since 2005. Take a look, then read on.
Pennsylvania’s Drake Well is known for sparking the first oil boom in the United States in 1859. In more recent history, the industry has resurrected hydrocarbon extraction in the Commonwealth through unconventional oil and gas drilling – or fracking. Between 2002 and October 28, 2015, at least 16,826 of these high-impact wells have been approved statewide, and 9,508 drilled.
Need I remind you that each of these wells will require a collector pipeline to carry the gas to a compressor station. At the compressor station a dozen or so 9000 horsepower engines drive massive, very loud compressors that raise the gas to pipeline pressures (1,200 pounds per square inch) and remove the components they don’t want in the pipeline with the gas (dirt, volatile organics, liquids). These they burn off with flares or simply vent to the air. The compressor station needs a large pipeline carry the gas to a still larger (30 inch diameter) interstate pipeline that takes it to market. These interstate lines have factory-size compressor stations every 40 miles.
Consider this — with only about half the 9,508 drilled wells connected to pipelines and producing we already have a glut of gas on the market — way more than needed for domestic demand. This same scenario exists worldwide. No wonder natural gas is super cheap. When (and if) all 16,826 permits result in producing wells, who is going to buy the gas? We are nowhere near maxed-out on permits and drilling opportunities.
Consider also — most forward-looking people realize that global warming (climate change) is real and the opportunity to ameliorate it will be lost if we fail to make a fast switch to non-carbon energy. More and cheaper natural gas is not needed and not in the public interest … no, it’s not the cleaner “bridge” fuel we once thought (watch the Ingraffea video to see why). The market for gas must contract, not expand.
Despite these realities, the people who drill wells, lay pipelines, and build and lease the machinery have too much invested to look for other careers — they want to drill and pipe and lease equipment until the unwary investors wake up and stop the gravy train. Halliburton and lots of less familiar names will continue to push shale gas extraction so long as there is a buck to be made in it.
Does anybody but me see a huge bubble here?