Monday, February 07, 2011

Poland, EU are joining the shale gas revolution

Shale gas is natural gas (NG) produced from shale i.e. from finely grained sedimentary rock composed of mud, flakes, and fragments of minerals.

Czech readers may want to know that "shale gas" is "plyn z břidlic", something we don't usually talk about. ;-)

Benny Peiser has distributed links to a couple of articles showing that the EU is getting serious about shale gas - which has been increasingly important in the U.S. from 2000 or so.
EU countries promote risky gas drilling (Spiegel)

Oil has joined the past: NG is the future (Business Insider)

LNG Energy joins Polish shale gas project (press release)
I added the last link because it's very fresh. For CO2-obsessed people, natural gas produces about 20% less CO2 per kWh than oil and about 40% less than coal. Clearly, not so much difference for a CO2 fundamentalist. ;-)

More importantly, there are lots of reserves. The proved oil reserves are about 1.2 trillion barrels. However, the shale gas contains the equivalent of more than 1.2 trillion barrels, too. And it's likely that the estimate will keep on increasing.

Poland may soon become another "shale" Norway. One week ago, the Czech media would inform us that foreign companies came to look for shale gas in our homeland, too.

In particular, BasGas (Australia) and Cuadrilla Resources (United Kingdom) are going to check the territory around Valašské Meziříčí (Northeast of the country, near Poland) as well as the region near Barrandeum - between Beroun and Prague, one that is seen from the train if you travel from Pilsen to Prague - named after paleontologist Joachim Barrande who studied the rocks over there.

Nearby neighborhood of Prague, Barrandov, is also named after him and is the main Czech counterpart of Hollywood or at least Bollywood. In fact, this plate on the Barrandov Hill could even be viewed as the counterpart of the letters "Hollywood" in Hollywood even though it's a little bit smaller. :-)

I find the rocks in the Barrandeum fascinating and I wouldn't be too happy if they were destroyed by miners. On the other hand, they're fascinating because they look like the Moon landscape, and maybe the character wouldn't change much if the hills became a new powerful source of shale gas. ;-)


  1. The key to the successful exploitation of shale gas is the safe disposal of the used fracking fluid.
    The fluid is heavily mixed with biocides and surfactants, to help penetrate the shale and to keep the gas flow channels from clogging with bacteria. After injection downhole, it takes on additional substances from the shale, including metals and organics such as benzene and phenol.
    It is essential that this spent fluid be dealt with carefully, lest it contaminate the watershed as well as the surface around the wells.
    Unfortunately, there are few or no rules for this aspect of drilling, so low budget operators just dump the fluid down the drains or on the ground, leaving the community to clean up the mess as best it can.
    It is very important that this part of the shale drilling be properly managed, else Poland and other EU members will pay a heavy price for their negligence.

  2. The shale gas boom in the US is not going very well. All of the big players have been bleeding red ink and cannot make money at less than $8. Sadly, if the price were to rise to $8 the costs would follow and make shale gas unprofitable again. The problem comes from the net energy return. Once we account for all of the energy invested in capital that is required to drill, produce, and transport the gas we find that it is not materially different than the total energy extracted from the shale wells.