Monday, October 22, 2012

Where's the Ponzi Scheme? Studies & Production Put Marcellus Reserves At Twice Government Estimate

Among the many misrepresentations and fabricated charges about gas production, one of the ugliest and most misleading is that the whole shale gas boom is a Ponzi scheme. The NYT is especially responsible for injecting this damaging nonsense into the public mind, though Rolling Stone Magazine loves too the shale-gas-ponzi-scheme frame.  As a result, many good people are quite convinced, and some fervently hope, that the gas will run out in a matter of years and that companies have been cooking the reserve books.

Over the weekend, the Associated Press wrote that new studies of the Marcellus, using actual production numbers, find that it has more than twice the gas stated in the most recent government estimate.  ITG Investment Research estimates that the Marcellus contains 330 trillion cubic feet of gas, or more than twice the 141 trillion cubic feet estimated by the Energy Information Administration.

The AP notes that the EIA estimate of 141 trillion cubic feet was a major reduction from its previous estimate of 410 trillion cubic feet and was widely reported, including of course by the NYT, and by the AP.  Here is what the AP further reports:

"But that lowered estimate doesn't correspond with actual well production, said Nikhanj [ITG's head of investment research].  He said their analysis shows that the Marcellus contains about 330 trillion cubic feet of gas, more than double the size of the next largest field in the nation, the Eagle Ford in South Texas."  Moreover, other analysts have placed even higher reserve numbers on the Marcellus than ITG's 330 trillion cubic feet.

In addition, Standard & Poor's Rating Services issued a report on October 15th, 2012 that says:
"The U.S.natural gas industry is rapidly evolving, largely because of shifting supply dynamics.  The Appalachian region in the Northeast is one of the main proponents of the change, as its Marcellus shale could contain recoverable resources equal to almost half of the country's proven natural gas reserves in the U.S."

Actual production from the Marcellus is at or above predicted levels and is so big that it alone is reshaping energy markets  The gas reserve just in the Marcellus is massive. Shale gas production now approaches 40% of all gas production in the US. Record levels of gas were produced in 2011, and a new record may be set in 2012, despite the collapse of the gas price.

Like it or not, the Marcellus alone has enough gas for at least 50 years, and probably longer, at expected rates of development and production. There is no Ponzi Scheme. You can read about that truth in the AP.

But what about the New York Times who gave such prominent life to the Ponzi scheme ugliness and falsehood?

Unfortunately, though the NYT has unending space for stories that cast gas in a controversial or negative light, and ran another such story this weekend, the NYT will not find any space for the truth about gas reserves, because it is a purely positive gas story. And it will never say that its sensational reporting about a shale gas Ponzi scheme was as false as its reporting that weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion.

Iraqi WMD and gas Ponzi schemes are two ghosts haunting the NYT and are rooted in two reporters that the NYT allowed to go rogue.

1 comment:

  1. Concerned ScientistOctober 22, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    These higher numbers fit very well with what I have come up with in a less rigorous way. And that would be with only 10% recovery of the in place gas. That means that we are leaving 90% in the ground. If engineers can figure out a way to produce 15%-20% of the gas in place that would make the numbers grow. And history tells us that is probably what will happen - technology will improve and reserves will grow.