Monday, November 26, 2012

Debunking Latest Attacks On Shale Gas As Bubble/Ponzi Scheme & Systemic Threat To Economy

Shale gas production for nearly a dozen years. A massive shale gas boom for now 5 years or since 2008. Record US natural gas production that crashed prices to below $2 for a thousand cubic feet.

Nothing stops the vampire like quality of attacks portraying the shale gas resource as soon to run out, as a bubble ready to pop, or a ponzi scheme.  Here is the link to one of the latest:  Indeed, Bill Powers is promoting a book to be published in May, 2013 theorizing that the shale gas resource will last just 5 to 7 years more.  Mind you such forecasts of impending shale gas supply doom are already about 3 years old, and soon US shale gas production will enter its 13th year.

Powers and Art Berman, who has done more than anyone to assert that the shale gas resource will soon collapse, also state that the economy faces cataclysm, like the financial catastrophe of 2008, when the shale gas resource is soon exhausted.  This comparison of the shale gas industry to the US financial system is, however, absurd.

The industry has no too big to fail problem.  Indeed, with about 60 different companies holding drilling permits in just Pennsylvania, the gas industry features a lack of concentration and has traits opposite of too big to fail.

Moreover, the gas industry is not the equivalent of a basic, economic infrastructure, unlike the banking system that is.  Economic life goes on through gas booms and busts, while a financial collapse brings all commerce crashing down.

By pointing to the 2008 financial collapse and suggesting that shale gas is another round of such disaster, Berman and Powers engage in fear mongering and attention seeking behavior.

Tellingly, the recent pull back in dry gas production in the US, of course, results from the opposite of an emerging gas supply shortage.  Instead, a very real gas supply glut crashed the price and caused rigs to redeploy to oil and wet gas.

But as some rigs went to more profitable opportunities, the gas in the ground stayed put, where it will be, when the gas rigs return.  And return they will, once gas prices move to $4 to $6 per thousand cubic feet range.   And there is conservatively 20 years of shale gas to be produced within that price range.

Moreover, were the US price to go above $6--hardly a high price, when today Europe and Asia pay $10 to $16 for natural gas-- the available shale gas supply certainly totals many decades more.


  1. Mr. Hanger,

    The birdies on Twitter are chirping. Sounds like you're going to have a very busy and exciting week... Best of luck to you on your new endeavor!

    Mike Knapp

    1. Mike:

      Thank you for the encouragement.

    2. Concerned ScientistNovember 27, 2012 at 1:11 PM

      Wow - After I read what Mike wrote I googled you and found out that you are running for governor. You've got my vote!

  2. Where do you get $4 to $6 as the long-term price of natgas? Because it hit the $2 range during the 'gold rush'? There are lots of studies out there (Mark Kasier at LSU, Kenneth Medlock at Baker Inst., Peter Terzakian at ARC Financial, MIT...) coming up with full-cost dry shale natgas at $6 TODAY. What happens with dollar devaluation? What happens with EURs are not as happens with EVERY new energy revolution? What happens as driller move from core (10 - 20% of the deposit) to fringe happens with EVERY new energy revolution? There are lots of experts out there, in addition to Berman and Pittinger that believe that as we carpet bomb the country side with shale wells, costs will only increase. The last few years of pricing are fiction - not sure why you would quote or make reference to fiction.

    1. It is a fair point that there is uncertainty about any long term energy price, including natural gas. But EIA, CERA and many other analysts forecast gas prices in the range of $4 to $6 over the long term. Time will tell. If gas prices go above $6, gas will not be competitive with competing fuels to make electricity.

  3. It is not quite clear what units the auther uses when talring about the prices.

    Is it bln or mln cubic feet, meters or BTUs?