Energía, Expertos, Mundo

Origen, presente y futuro de la revolución del shale en los Estados Unidos

16 Sep , 2013
Federico Bernal (Director del CLICET)  

La aplicación de técnicas de fracturación para estimular la producción de gas y petróleo no es nueva. Las primeras tentativas se remontan a comienzos del siglo pasado, en EE UU. El registro de la primera fractura fue en 1947; y el primer pozo horizontal fue perforado en la década del treinta. A partir de los años 50 ambas técnicas crecieron a pasos agigantados, también en EE.UU.

Fue recién a mediados de los 70, por iniciativa del Departamento de Energía y el Instituto para la Investigación del Gas estadounidenses, que la estimulación hidráulica tuvo su bautismo comercial al aplicarse por primera vez a la extracción de shale gas. La participación estatal fue clave para que, al poco tiempo, la técnica se optimizara y complementara con la perforación horizontal.

A inicios de los noventa, la explotación de shale gas en la formación geológica no convencional Barnett (en Texas) fue la primera en ser comercialmente viable. Para 2005, la producción de Barnett producía 0,5 trillones de pies cúbicos (TCF) de gas natural por año. La exitosa experiencia entonces se replicó en otras formaciones no convencionales del país. La extracción de no convencionales se multiplicó, dando por resultado una revolución hidrocarburífera inédita en su historia. A nivel gas, la producción pasó de 0,3 TCF en 2000 a 1 TCF en 2006, 4,8 en 2010 (23% del total nacional) y 9,6 en 2012 (40% del total nacional).

Por su parte, la producción de crudo registró un alza, mayoritariamente como consecuencia del aporte del shale y tight oil, de unos 847 mil barriles diarios el año pasado en relación a 2011, el mayor incremento a escala planetaria (Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources: An Assessment of 137 Shale Formations in 41 Countries Outside the United States. EIA. Junio 2013). Según la Agencia Internacional de la Energía, EE UU podrá desplazar a Arabia Saudita en la próxima década como el principal productor de petróleo del mundo (World Energy Outlook – 2012).

Asimismo y según la EIA, EE UU que hoy importa un 20% de la energía consumida domésticamente, habrá eliminado sus importaciones netas para 2035. De hecho, el impacto en independencia energética registrado a la fecha resulta ya notable: el crecimiento en las reservas le alcanzan para satisfacer la demanda de 269 días sin importaciones netas (150 días era el horizonte unos cinco años atrás). En EE.UU se han descubierto a la fecha 20 formaciones geológicas con hidrocarburos no convencionales.

La “Vaca Muerta estadounidense” 
EE.UU. cuenta con las reservas de shale gas técnicamente recuperables más importantes del mundo y las segundas en shale oil. En la nación estadounidense se han descubierto a la fecha 20 formaciones geológicas con hidrocarburos no convencionales. La más grande en cuanto al gas (una suerte de “Vaca Muerta estadounidense”) es Marcellus (410,3 TCF o 55% del total de reservas técnicamente extraíbles), ubicada al noreste del país. Para tener una idea del potencial, la Argentina tenía a fines de 2012 11,3 TCF de reservas probadas de gas y EE UU 300 TCF (BP – 2013).

En petróleo, la más importante es Monterey/Santos, al sur de California (15.400 millones de barriles o 64% del total de recursos shale). Concentrémonos ahora en la “Vaca Muerta estadounidense”. La formación geológica de gas no convencional más importante de EE UU y del mundo (por su nivel de producción presente) es Marcellus. Representa una extensión de 156 mil kilómetros cuadrados (Vaca Muerte tiene 300 mil), de los cuales se han licitado apenas 16.995 (Review of Emerging Resources: U.S. Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays. EIA. Julio 2011).

Marcellus, con reservas probadas de shale gas por 31,9 TCF (EIA-2011), Shale formations such as the Marcellus are producing so much natural gas that the nation’s gas supply will exceed its demand by 2017, according to research released on Tuesday by Bentek Energy LLC. Marcellus cubre seis Estados. El 57% de la formación geológica se encuentra en los Estados de Pennsylvania y West Virginia, ambos aprobaron la técnica de la fractura hidráulica. El restante porcentaje se distribuye entre Ohio y Nueva York (tienen en conjunto el 38% del total), Virginia (3,8%) y Maryland (1%). De los seis Estados, sólo Nueva York y Maryland prohíben la fractura hidráulica, aunque las prohibiciones son hasta el momento “temporales”.

Los Estados de Marcellus y el ‘Fraking’
Las legislaturas de Nueva York y Maryland están trabajando intensamente en la elaboración de marcos regulatorios medioambientales más estrictos y perfeccionados que los existentes en otros Estados, de tal suerte de habilitar la fractura hidráulica más que prohibirlo.

A propósito, dos detalles no menores. En primer lugar, si bien el Estado de Nueva York prohíbe la explotación del shale, el mayor aumento en la generación de empleo en este Estado ha sido provisto por la perforación de no convencionales en Pennsylvania, estado contiguo y al frente del shale gas en Marcellus.

De hecho Ohio, se convertirá para 2025 en el tercer estado que más empleo generará a partir de la industria del gas y del petróleo (el primero es Texas, seguido de Pennsylvania). En este sentido, las respectivas autoridades estaduales no pueden ignorar los mayúsculos beneficios del boom en el shale.

En segundo lugar y para el caso de Maryland, cabe destacar que el Departamento de Energía de EE.UU. acaba de aprobar la primera licencia para la exportación de GNL, que provendrá del shale gas de la formación Marcellus. La terminal, aun sujeta a una revisión medioambiental para su aprobación final, exportará un promedio de 0,77 mil millones de pies cúbicos de gas diarios (Bcf/d) durante 20 años. Como se ve, todo indica que Maryland se está preparando para permitir la pronta extracción de no convencionales.

Inversiones y producción en shale en EE.UU.
A nivel nacional y desde 2008, se han formado unos 21 joints ventures entre compañías locales y extranjeras para la explotación de los recursos shale, con inversiones que rondan los 26 mil millones de dólares. Para el período comprendido entre 2008 y 2012, se han cerrado 73 acuerdos con un total de 133 mil millones de dólares (los joints ventures conformados con empresas no estadounidenses participan con el 20% del total de estas inversiones).

Las inversiones extranjeras se dirigen a la compra de un porcentaje de la superficie en el yacimiento no convencional en poder de la compañía local, a cambio de desembolsos por anticipado y en efectivo, y un compromiso de cubrir una parte de los costos de perforación por un plazo que va desde los dos a los diez años (Foreign investors play large role in U.S. shale industry. EIA. 8 de abril 2013).

Específicamente para Marcellus, ya en 2008 operaban en el megayacimiento unas 19 compañías privadas. El costo promedio total de un pozo no convencional (perforación vertical + horizontal + fracturación hidráulica, etc.), entre 2008 y 2010, era de entre tres y cuatro millones de dólares. En fin, en EE UU y a excepción de ciertos grupos fundamentalistas de la ecología –muchos de ellos patrocinados por compañías dedicadas a la fabricación de equipos para la generación de energía en base a fuentes renovables–, ya nadie se cuestiona el uso del shale gas y shale oil, sino más bien cómo lograrlo con un mínimo de impacto medioambiental, con sostenibilidad y sustentabilidad económica y, muy especialmente, con apoyo de las comunidades involucradas.

Mundo

UK: Director de Cámara de Comercio resaltó importancia del shale para la industria

16 Sep , 2013
Sarah Marsh  

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, believes that Britain needs to find cheap, reliable sources of energy and must “frack like mad” in order to power British industry and grow the economy.

Speaking at a Guardian fringe event on 15 September at this year’s Liberal Democrat party conference Longworth said the country also needs nuclear and other sources of energy and hit out at the government’s slow progress on infrastructure saying that future generations would not be able to afford quality public services unless we invest in projects to grow the economy now.

“We have got to have reliable sources of cheap energy supply for industry to prosper and the economy to grow and we have to get to grips with that,” said Longworth. “That means we have got to frack like mad and there is an interesting debate going on about that at the moment.”

He added that “economic performance matters and if people don’t believe that they are in a fool’s paradise. For our children and grandchildren, if we don’t perform economically well compared to other countries, we won’t be able to afford the quality of service of the NHS, education, welfare, pensions and defence.”

Longworth cited HS2 as an example of how much money infrastructure could generate, saying that the project could pay for itself in less than a decade.

Other speakers at the event on infrastructure investment, sponsored by Hitachi Europe and chaired by Michael White, assistant editor at the Guardian, included Norman Baker, parliamentary under secretary for transport, Sir Stephen Gomersall, chair of Hitachi Europe, and Gordon Birtwistle, chair of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party committee on business, innovation and skills.

Baker opened the debate by saying that the government had “powered ahead with investment in transport and infrastructure” despite cuts in revenue budget. It was an area in which both parties in the coalition had agreed to invest, he said, adding that local authorities will have more power over infrastructure decisions but with certain minimum standards being applied.

Agreeing with Longworth, Gomersall said “HS2 has suffered from some presentational disadvantages but if you look at experiences elsewhere, like Japan, you will see its advantages.”

Birtwistle said one of the biggest challenges facing the UK was building up a skilled workforce. “The skills problem is becoming so acute in the UK, certainly in engineering and the really high technical skills that a lot of companies are finding it difficult to find people to employ.”

The impact of Britain potentially leaving the EU was also discussed: Gomersall said such a move would affect companies like Hitachi as well as the number of jobs that could be created in Britain. “We came to the UK because we believed it was the best manufacturing base in Europe for the whole of the European market,” he said, but added that Hitachi’s exports in Germany and northern European depended on having an environment in the UK with European partners which would enable goods and services to be exported throughout the EU. “So yes we would be affected most certainly if things changed. It would impact the speed at which we could grow and the number of jobs we could create in the UK.”

John Longworth, Norman Baker, Gordon Birtwistle and Stephen Gomersall were speaking at the Liberal Democrat party conference Guardian fringe event on 15 September.

Expertos, Mundo

El pensamiento actual sobre política energética no puede excluir al shale

13 Sep , 2013
Joaquim González Muntadas  

En la caliente batalla del sí o no en torno al fracking (también llamado estimulación hidraúlica), que se está librando en nuestro país, algo nos debería enseñar la noticia de la declaración conjunta adoptada por la patronal y la mayoría de los sindicatos franceses presentada en la Conferencia Social los pasados 20 y 21 de junio y titulado “Reinventando el crecimiento”, donde reclaman al Gobierno y llaman a la sociedad a revisar la posición de prohibición en Francia del gas de esquisto, afirmando que “el pensamiento actual sobre política energética no puede excluir el gas de esquisto”, y apostando por un esfuerzo en la investigación sobre la explotación de este gas del que Francia tiene considerables reservas.

Esta posición común de los sindicatos y patronal franceses en las negociaciones del Diálogo Social para la mejora competitiva de un país como Francia, con un alto nivel de soberanía energética por la energía nuclear, nos recuerda y reafirma que cuando hablamos de nuestra necesidad de mejorar la competitividad, como condición para la salida de la crisis y la creación empleo, es determinante situar la industria en el eje de la economía, y que este objetivo es muy difícil de conseguir si no conseguimos mejorar nuestro déficit energético (un lastre constante de nuestra economía) y más aún cuando el sector energético está viviendo una convulsa revolución mundial.

El ‘fracking’ supone una revolución que acentuará las ventajas de unos países frente a otros. Me refiero a la revolución energética provocada por las nuevas y enormes reservas de hidrocarburos no convencionales, cuya posibilidad de explotación de forma competitiva se debe a las tecnologías del fracking. Se trata de una revolución o una convulsión que modificará el mapa energético mundial y las ventajas comparativas de algunos países frente a otros. Así se está poniendo de manifiesto en la industria de EE.UU. al empezar a contar ahora con unos precios de gas significativamente más baratos que el resto de sus competidores mundiales. La pregunta que en Europa aún no se ha respondido es: ¿cómo gestionar esta revolución del gas de esquisto o gas no convencional, aún sin legislación regulatoria ni política común?, ¿cómo afrontará Europa la extrema diferencia en su contra del coste de la energía cuando ésta representa casi el 30% de los costes totales de su industria? El tiempo nos lo dirá, pero sabemos que no es la rapidez una de las virtudes de nuestra UE.

Y en España, ¿cómo estamos afrontando este radical cambio energético? ¿perderemos como casi siempre el tren, o seremos capaces de aprovechar los estímulos a la innovación que representa esta nueva industria? ¿podremos ser tan “originales” de ser un país, posiblemente de los únicos del mundo, que tiene carbón y no lo explota y puede tener hidrocarburos pero rechaza incluso la posibilidad de investigar y explorar para conocer sus reservas?

Es necesaria una reflexión rigurosa sobre las ventajas y los inconvenientes de la explotación de nuestras reservas de gas de esquisto

Lo más preocupante es la falta de posición y de referencias creíbles y rigurosas por parte de las fuerzas políticas, que han ido adaptando su opinión y posición a los inmediatos intereses electorales, lo que les ha llevado a defender posiciones distintas y contrapuestas en función del territorio y de la responsabilidad (gobierno/oposición) que gestionasen en cada momento. Indefinición y falta de debate de las fuerzas políticas que gobiernan, que hasta hoy han tenido que reglamentar y conceder la autorización para la exploración del gas de esquisto, generando desconcierto en gran parte de la ciudadanía. Un desconcierto que facilita que prácticamente haya acabado siendo percibido como un litigio entre dos polos opuestos e irreconciliables. Por una parte, aquellos colectivos y organizaciones sociales que respondiendo a sus legítimas opiniones, se oponen frontalmente. Por otra, las empresas energéticas directamente interesadas en la explotación de nuestras reservas de gas no convencional. Y en medio de esta confrontación, el silencio, cuando no la indiferencia y la desinformación de la mayoría de la ciudadanía, sin conciencia clara de las consecuencias determinantes de una u otra opción para el futuro económico, energético e industrial de España.

Por esto sería muy útil y necesario que nuestras organizaciones empresariales y sindicales también se impliquen, estudien y reflexionen con rigor las ventajas y los inconvenientes de la explotación de nuestras reservas de gas no convencional e incorporen en el Diálogo Social necesario para la mejora de la competitividad de nuestra economía.

Hablamos de realizar debates francos y rigurosos, conscientes que estamos ante una batalla plagada de intereses, ya que existe la posibilidad de modificar el actual mapa energético mundial, cambiando el estatus de los actuales suministradores de hidrocarburos, sean éstos árabes o rusos.

Por esto podemos decir que en esta guerra dialéctica, preñada de intereses, a favor o en contra del fracking adquiere sentido aquella frase de Jorge Semprum “pueden haber guerras justas pero no hay ejércitos inocentes”.

*El autor fue Secretario General de CCOO-Fiteqa (Federación de Industria Química)

Mundo

Parlamento vasco acordó no prohibir la fractura hidráulica en espacios naturales

13 Sep , 2013
El País  

El Parlamento vasco, en contra del criterio de EH Bildu y de las Juntas Generales de Álava, ha acordado no prohibir de forma expresa la exploración y explotación de hidrocarburos mediante la técnica de Estimulación Hidráulica en los espacios naturales protegidos.

La Comisión de Medio Ambiente de la Cámara vasca ha aprobado el dictamen de la ponencia que ha debatido sobre la proposición de ley de las Juntas Generales de Álava, que pedía en el Parlamento una modificación de la Ley vasca de Conservación de la Naturaleza para establecer la prohibición del ‘Fracking’, dentro de terreros de espacios naturales protegidos.

Esta propuesta de las Juntas Generales de Alava ha sido rechazada por PNV, PSE-EE, PP y UPyD, que han unido sus votos para aprobar un texto al que se ha opuesto EH Bildu. Concretamente, el dictamen aprobado, que ahora tendrá que ser debatido y votado en sesión plenaria, contempla una modificación del artículo 17 de la Ley de Conservación de la Naturaleza del País Vasco que establece que dentro de los límites de los espacios naturales protegidos y sus zonas de afección se prohibirán las actividades extractivas que resulten incompatibles con los valores ambientales que se protegen.

Añade que serán los instrumentos de gestión de planificación o de gestión de cada espacio natural protegido los que determinen la incompatibilidad de dichas actividades extractivas con los valores medioambientales y los criterios de protección de dichos espacios. Si fueran compatibles dichas técnicas con los valores ambientales, los proyectos se someterán a la perceptiva evaluación de impacto ambiental, según el texto.

El portavoz ‘abertzale’ critica el cambio de posición del PNV

De esta forma, el documento respaldado por PNV, PSE-EE, PP y UPyD no prohíbe expresamente el “fracking” y deja la puerta abierta al uso de esta técnica en los espacios naturales, según ha asegurado el parlamentario de EH Bildu, Dani Maeztu. Maeztu ha denunciado la “incoherencia absoluta” del PNV por pedir en las Juntas Generales de Álava la prohibición del “fracking”, en contra de lo defendido por su grupo en la Cámara vasca y también ha acusado a los nacionalistas de ceder ante el “lobby energético” con la ayuda del PSE y del PP.

Ha criticado al resto de los grupos por “deformar” la propuesta de las Juntas y abrir las puertas a la “peligrosa técnica de la fractura hidráulica también en los espacios protegidos” y ha recordado que en otras comunidades como Navarra, Cantabria y La Rioja, socialistas y populares sí que han prohibido el “fracking”.

Luis Javier Tellería (PNV), por su parte, ha rebatido estas acusaciones y ha dejado claro que la propuesta aprobada “no abre la puerta” al “fracking” porque para el uso de esta técnica se exige una evaluación de impacto ambiental. Además, ha añadido, el Gobierno vasco, las diputaciones y los ayuntamientos serán los que decidan en cada caso si se pervierten los valores medioambientales que se quieren proteger y en el texto se promueve la no existencia de canteras en estas áreas protegidas.

Natalia Rojo (PSE-EE) ha recordado que la propuesta de las Juntas es contraria a la jurisprudencia, que rechaza las prohibiciones genéricas relacionadas con la extracción minera en defensa del medio ambiente.

En la línea de los argumentos socialistas, la parlamentaria del PP, Mari Carmen López de Ocariz, ha dicho que la proposición de las juntas es “ilegal”, mientras que Gorka Maneiro (UPyD) ha mostrado su rechazo a esta técnica pero ha aclarado que la propuesta alavesa era de dudosa legalidad.

Mundo

EEUU afirma que hay suficiente shale para cubrir la demanda mundial durante 10 años

13 Sep , 2013  

El shale gas está superando a las previsiones para bien. Un informe reciente elaborado por el Departamento de Energía estadounidense asegura que podría haber gas no convencional suficiente para abastecer el consumo energético en el mundo durante al menos una década.

EEUU es junto con Canadá el pionero en el desarrollo de la técnica Estimulación Hidráulica, popularmente conocida como ‘Fracking’. Y, por ahora, son los únicos países que sacan partido en términos comerciales de la que ya se califica como revolución energética.

Sin embargo, en los últimos tiempos se está incrementando el número de países que pone sus ojos sobre esta energía, lo que ha hecho crecer también de forma significativa las reservas potenciales.

El mapa
De hecho, estos filones energéticos son tan “abundantes” que las previsiones de reservas existentes en todo el mundo han superado 11% las estimaciones realizadas por el Departamento de Energía de estadounidense hace solo dos años, de forma que se podría cubrir la demanda de energía a nivel global durante más de diez años.

La Casa Blanca ha analizado un total de 42 de países (EEUU incluido) y ha dibujado un mapa de recursos de shale oil y shale gas “técnicamente recuperable“. En atención al petróleo ligero, Rusia es el lugar que alberga más recursos “recuperables”, que calcula en 75.000 millones de barriles. Le sigue EEUU, con 58.000 millones de barriles. El top cinco lo completan China, Argentina y Libia.

Por su parte, si se habla de shale gas China se sitúa a la cabeza. Argentina, Argelia, EEUU y Canada ocupan los siguientes puestos en recursos “técnicamente recuperables“.

En conjunto, el Departamento de Energía estadounidense calcula que los recursos mundiales “no probados” de shale oil y shale gas ascienden a 345.000 millones de barriles.

En su informe, Washington explica que estas estimaciones dependen de los avances que se logren en la perforación horizontal y la fractura hidráulica. Así, añade que por ahora las previsiones son “altamente inciertas“.

Mundo

Gracias a la explotación de shale, Texas ya produce más petróleo que Irán

13 Sep , 2013  

La última revolución energética, la Estimulación Hidráulica -popularmente llamada ‘Fracking’- está permitiendo a Estados Unidos elevar sus niveles de producción de petróleo a unas cotas no vistas desde la década de los 80 y a recortar su dependencia de las importaciones de combustible para abastecerse.

Según los datos publicados por la Administración de Información de Energía (AIE), dependiente del Departamento de Energía, la producción de crudo de EEUU repuntó la pasada semana a su mayor nivel desde mayo de 1989. En concreto, se incrementó en 124.000 barriles diarios, el 1,6% más, hasta los 7,745 millones de barriles al día.

Gracias al shale
Esta subida está directamente relacionada con la actividad en los yacimientos estadounidenses de shale gas o gas de esquisto y shale oil o petróleo ligero. Las reservas generadas en dos de las tres principales zonas de extracción, Bakken (Dakota del Norte) y Eagle Ford (Texas), han contribuido de manera importante en el hecho de que EEUU se haya convertido en el principal exportador de combustibles refinados (lo que incluye gasolina y diésel) del mundo.

Solo el estado de Texas generó una media de 2,575 millones de barriles al día en junio, de acuerdo con la AIE, una cifra que la sitúa por delante de siete de los países miembros de la OPEP.

“Es sorprendente. Ahora mismo Texas está produciendo más petróleo que Iran”, afirma el presidente de la consultora Lipow Oil Associates, Andy Lipow, en declaraciones a Bloomberg. En cifras, supone que Texas se adelantó en junio a lo 2,56 millones de barriles generados por Irán, aunque aún se sitúa por detrás de Arabia Saudí, Iraq, Kuwait o Venezuela.

Menor dependencia
Pero el boom del ‘Fracking’ no solo permite a EEUU avanzar puestos en el ranking de productores de petróleo mundiales, sino que está acercando al país norteamericano a la tan ansiada independencia energética.

De nuevo hay que remitirse a los datos facilitados por la AIE, que indican que entre enero y mayo EEUU consiguió cubrir el 87% de sus necesidades energéticas, una proporción no alcanzada desde mediados de los años 80. Y en base a las previsiones del Departamento de Energía, la producción doméstica de crudo alcanzará los 7,5 millones de barriles diarios este año, para llegar a los 8,4 millones de barriles en 2014.

Como consecuencia, se espera que las importaciones de netas de crudo caigan a 5,4 millones de barriles el próximo ejercicio, una cifra que está lejos de los 12,5 millones que EEUU tenía que comprar al exterior en 2005.

Pero pese al despegue de la producción de shale gas y shale oil, las capacidades de la técnica de extracción conocida como fraking o fractura hidráulica están lejos de tocar techo, según aseguran las previsiones. Recientemente, la AIE emitía un informe en el que aseguraba que hay reservas potenciales de gas no convencional suficiente para abastecer el consumo energético en el mundo durante al menos una década.

Otro estudio, publicado por la Universidad de Harvard, asegura que EEUU podría llegar en 2017 al primer puesto de productores de petróleo mundiales, superando a Arabia Saudí, siempre que el precio del crudo estadounidense se sitúe entre los 75 y los 85 dólares por barril hasta 2015. Este importe sería el mínimo necesario para que la producción del petróleo ligero sea comercialmente viable en las zonas donde su obtención es más difícil.

Energía, Mundo

México: Exploración de shale en Coahuila generaría 500 nuevos empleos en la región

13 Sep , 2013
Edgar L. González  

Para el mes de mayo se prevé que Petróleos Mexicanos y la Secretaría de Economía puedan dar a conocer los avances en la exploración de gas shale en la región Norte de Coahuila, explicó el secretario de Desarrollo Económico, José Antonio Gutiérrez Jardón.

Tan sólo en la exploración del territorio coahuilense y otros lugares del Norte del país se invierten más de 220 millones de dólares, de los cuales casi 100 millones de dólares son para Coahuila.

De acuerdo con Gutiérrez Jardón, si se aprueba la Reforma Energética, Coahuila tendría un despegue en inversiones porque se permitiría la inversión privada en la extracción, la cual no necesariamente sería extranjera.

Explicó que también hay empresarios mexicanos interesados en que se abra la inversión en la extracción del gas shale, que de acuerdo con datos preliminares, estaría concentrado en la región Norte de Coahuila, principalmente en el municipio de Guerrero.

En este municipio hay una expectativa de 500 nuevos empleos con la exploración que se hace actualmente y se espera que la cifra vaya en aumento.

Mundo

El mercado de la energía cambiará con la entrada de EE.UU. al boom del shale

12 Sep , 2013
Matt Brann  

Arthur Nixon, director de la empresa internacional Shell Gas, afirma que el éxito del gas de esquisto en los Estados Unidos generará un cambio en el mercado mundial del sector energético. Por eso, los proyectos australianos necesitan prepararse para un contexto de mayor competencia.

Hundreds of delegates are discussing the future of Australia’s oil and gas sector at the South East Asia Australia Offshore Conference (SEAAOC) in Darwin this week.

Conference chair and former director of Shell International Gas, Arthur Dixon, says the US has gone from being an anticipated importer of energy to an exporter of cheap shale gas.

“So a few years ago, the US was on track to be an importer of energy, in particular LNG, and we in the LNG industry were looking forward to a big, big market over there,” he says.

“But then along came shale gas… and the result today is they (the US) are awash with cheap gas and it’s being used in power stations where coal was previously being used.

“US coal is now being sold into Europe, where it’s cheaper than Russian gas, and we wait to see what the competition will be with Russian gas as they lose some of their market share,

“So this region, Australia, is suffering quite a degree of competition from the US… it would be making current projects nervous, but there would be even more pressure on the new projects that are coming along.”

Mr Dixon says there was huge potential in Australia for shale gas projects, but the general public needed to get over some of its fears on fracking.

“All I’m asking is for people not to just leap on it and say ‘fracking is bad and we should never have it anymore’,

“Because this is something that’s a game changer, it’s an economic boost, it’s a major thing, and we can do it successfully, safely, environmentally safely, it can be done.”

Mundo

CEO de Wintershall apunta que Alemania debería debatir la utilización del ‘Fracking’

11 Sep , 2013
Jan Hromadko  

Germany should thoroughly debate whether it can afford an outright ban on the production of shale gas, a form of unconventional natural gas found in shale rock formations that has helped turn the U.S. energy market upside down, the chief executive officer of the country’s largest oil and gas producer said Wednesday.

“The production of shale gas could be a great opportunity for Germany”, said Rainer Seele, CEO of Wintershall, a unit of chemical giant BASF SE (BAS.XE).

However, shale gas production is controversial in Germany as it requires the application of hydraulic fracturing, a technology also known as fracking that is used to extract unconventional natural gas deposits that cannot be released by simply drilling a well. Fracking involves pumping huge volumes of water and chemicals underground to fracture rock formations and release the trapped gas deposits.

Mr. Seele conceded that shale gas production in Germany is unlikely to turn the domestic energy market upside down, contrasting developments in the past few years in the U.S., where shale gas production triggered a massive slide in gas prices and is set to make the country the world’s largest gas producer.

However, shale gas production could help keep indigenous gas production at present levels for at least another 100 years, he said.

Germany is in the midst of phasing out all nuclear power generation through 2022 and intends to replace most of its fossil-fueled power plants with “green” energy such as wind and solar power. Gas, which emits less carbon dioxide than coal, is widely considered as an acceptable backup for intermittent renewable energies.

Germany’s state-owned Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources said last year the country has significant shale gas reserves that–if produced–could theoretically meet the country’s gas consumption for the next 10 years and help it to considerably reduce reliance on energy imports.

Mr. Seele also criticized the fierce rejection of the fracking technology by vast parts of the German population for fear of environmental harm.

“Many people don’t know that around one third of indigenous production of conventional gas can only be produced through application of hydraulic fracturing”, he said.

Mr. Seele added that a large portion of that is known as tight gas, a form of natural gas trapped in extremely dense rock formations. In contrast to shale gas, tight gas carrying rock formations are generally located much deeper underground and are therefore not in close proximity to ground water reservoirs.

Mr. Seele said that the controversy surrounding the issue of shale gas and fracking has effectively resulted in an outright ban of the technology for fear of public outcry on environmental grounds.

He added that authorities in Germany haven’t approved any fracking requests since the middle of 2011, which has accelerated the decline in indigenous gas production, which is already on the decline as wells are gradually depleting.

Last year, domestic gas production declined to 12% of overall consumption, in part due to the ban on fracking, Mr. Seele said.

Germany’s gas and oil industry association WEG last month said that indigenous gas production declined by a further 10% in the first half of 2013 compared with the same period a year earlier. The lobby group also attributed the fall to failure by authorities to approve fracking activities.

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Expertos, Mundo

Secretario de Estado de Energía de UK informó sobre mitos y realidades del shale

9 Sep , 2013
Edward Davey  

Discurso del Secretario de Estado de Energía y Cambio Climático del Reino Unido, Edward Davey disertó en la Real Sociedad de Londres, sobre los mitos y realidades del shale:

Introduction
For over 350 years, the Society has served the common good. Your Charter, updated and approved by the Queen just last year, tasks the Royal Society to ensure that the light of science and learning “shines conspicuously”. Not just amongst our own people – but the “length of the whole world”; To be a “patron of every kind of truth”.

It is because of your rich history, your reputation for independence, your dedication to the scientific method, that people turn to the Royal Society for understanding when confronted with new and complex challenges.

That is why last year, the Government’s former Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington, asked the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, to review the scientific and engineering evidence on the advances being made in shale gas extraction.

Specifically the technology of hydraulic fracturing – popularly known as fracking. And he asked you to make recommendations to ensure exploration in the UK could proceed safely and extraction be managed effectively;

Recommendations based on the scientific evidence to ensure that the way forward is informed by fact and not by myth. On behalf of the Government, I accepted the recommendations of your report in full.

And today I want to talk about the progress we’re making in implementing them. But I also want to take this opportunity to address other concerns that have been raised. And to set shale gas in the context of Britain’s overall energy strategy.

The debate on shale gas
There has been quite a debate on the future of shale gas this summer. And if you took at face value some of the claims made about fracking, such has been the exaggeration and misunderstanding, you would be forgiven for thinking that it represents a great evil;

One of the gravest threats that has ever existed to the environment, to the health of our children and to the future of the planet. On the other side of the coin, you could have been led to believe that shale gas is the sole answer to all our energy problems;

That we can turn our backs on developing renewables and nuclear, safe in the knowledge that shale gas will meet all our energy needs. Both of these positions are just plain wrong.

I understand the concerns people have that shale gas extraction could be taken forward irresponsibly and without proper protections. And I stand shoulder to shoulder with those who want to tackle climate change; Just as I stand shoulder to shoulder with those who want to keep our homes warm and our businesses powered at a price people can afford.

But our society is ill served when we allow myths to proliferate or when we allow debates to be hijacked by zealots or vested interests.

So, today, I want to make the calm, rational, objective case for shale gas exploration in the UK in the light of the three equal and overarching objectives I have as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

First, powering the country – keeping the lights on – planning properly to meet our future energy needs. Second, protecting the planet – cutting carbon emissions and preserving our environment – being responsible guardians of our children’s inheritance. And third – making sure the whole of society benefits from the exploitation of energy resources – revenues, growth and jobs – and, of course, affordable bills.

UK shale gas can be developed sensibly and safely, protecting the local environment, with the right regulation. And we can meet our wider climate change targets at the same time, with the right policies in place.

Gas, as the cleanest fossil fuel, is part of the answer to climate change, as a bridge in our transition to a green future, especially in our move away from coal.

Gas will buy us the time we need over the coming decades to get enough low carbon technology up and running so we can power the country and keep cutting emissions.

We have to face it: North Sea gas production is falling and we are become increasingly reliant on gas imports.

So UK shale gas could increase our energy security by cutting those imports.

Home-grown gas, just like home-grown renewables and new nuclear, also provides jobs for our people and tax revenues for our society.

Taking all this together shale gas could have significant benefits. But – let me be equally clear – shale gas is no quick fix and no silver bullet.

First, we must make sure that the rigorous regulation we are putting in place is followed to the letter, to protect the local environment. Second, we must pursue vigorously the development and deployment of mitigation and abatement technologies like carbon capture and storage, to protect the planet. And, third, frankly, we are at the very early stages of onshore shale gas exploration in the UK.

We may have been fracking in Britain’s offshore waters for years. The US may have been fracking onshore for years. But in Britain, fracking for onshore gas in shale, at any significant scale, is something new.

Nobody can say, for sure, how much onshore UK shale gas resource exists. Or how much of it can be commercially extracted. So let’s be cautious about hyperbole on shale.

For it would likely be the 2020s before we might feel any benefits in full. So we can’t bank on shale gas to solve all our energy challenges, today or this decade. And in the next decade, shale, by itself, will not come close to solving even our basic energy resource security challenge.

But the promising news is that UK shale gas could be a key and valuable resource as part of a more diverse energy mix – especially as the production of North Sea gas declines in the future.

And it will do so alongside conventional gas, wind, wave, biomass, nuclear, carbon capture and storage – and all the other low carbon technologies that must contribute. We won’t know any of this for sure until proper exploration takes place.

So it’s in the national interest to move on from the arguments of zealots and vested interests, and start a debate about how best to proceed safely with shale gas exploration, where we maximise the real positive benefits and minimise the inevitable negative impacts.

And today I want to start that debate beginning with that first objective I set out, powering the country. And to do that, I have to tell the story of gas in Britain.

We need gas
Over the last 45 years, the extraction of both oil and gas from the North Sea has contributed around £300bn in production taxes to the Treasury, with hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.

Today, our society annually consumes around 70 billion cubic metres of gas. Roughly a quarter of that is used to produce electricity. And nearly all of the rest is used for cooking our food and heating our buildings. And gas has advantages for those tasks: it is flexible and readily available.

Gas is much better for the environment than coal when generating electricity, with half the carbon footprint.

As our comprehensive 40 year Carbon Plan sets out – a plan that meets our ambitious climate change objectives – gas will continue to play a role right through to 2050. And over the next two decades or more, gas in the power sector will support our ability to reduce carbon emissions while we develop low carbon alternatives for electricity.

For by 2030, none of Britain’s electricity must come from unabated coal – a dramatic shift. Instead, it must come from some mixture of renewable generation, nuclear and gas.

In proportions decided in the world’s first low carbon electricity market this Coalition Government is establishing. But with gas-fuelled electricity predicted to have a significant market share.

And if carbon capture and storage technology can be successfully deployed, gas will continue to play a major role in power generation into the 2030s and beyond. So Britain will continue to need gas. For power. For heating. And for cooking. But North Sea gas reserves are diminishing.

We expect net North Sea gas production to fall from a peak of 108 billion cubic metres at the turn of the century to perhaps 19 billion cubic metres by 2030. We will miss that gas – and the tax revenues it brings. And the jobs – given the levels of employment supported today by offshore gas production. And less North Sea gas means greater reliance on imports.

In 2003, we were a net exporter of gas. But by 2025 we expect to be importing close to 70% of the gas we consume. How we get gas matters.

Energy security
There is a big debate at the moment about Britain’s energy security. And like the shale gas debate it is characterised by myth and misinformation. Over the next 6 months, I intend to make a series of speeches that I hope will counter that – and reassure people that the problems the Coalition inherited on all aspects of energy security are being fully addressed.

But for today, it’s important to realise that energy security has several aspects – from having sufficient electricity generation capacity to having the networks for delivering gas, electricity and transport fuel reliably across the country.

The role of gas in the UK’s energy security story is in the energy resource piece. Can Britain be sure of our raw fuel supplies? And the good news is, our energy resource security is actually very robust. There have been no major interruptions to gas supplies in recent history.

Partly, of course, because we have our own direct supplies currently – from the North Sea. But also because we have reliable conventional piped gas supplies from our friends in Norway and the Netherlands. And because the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) we import from Qatar and other suppliers has been dependable.

Indeed, our capacity to import gas has increased five-fold in the past decade. So the UK has one of the largest and most liquid gas markets in Europe – giving us confidence about the short and medium term security of gas supply. But we cannot afford to be complacent.

Global energy demand is already twice as high as it was 30 years ago. And the International Energy Agency estimates that it is set to grow by a third again by 2035. If we see rapid increases in global gas demand to which supply cannot react quickly. Or if we see disruptions in supply to which demand cannot react quickly, we will see price spikes and wider market instability.

In 2005/6 for instance, the spike in UK gas prices can be partly attributed to a reduction in Russian supplies to Europe.

Fears that a conflict in the Middle East would close the straits of Hormuz can also set the markets jittering.

You only have to look at the effect of recent crises in Libya or Syria to understand how global events can impact on the markets.

So our solutions to energy resource security have to be robust and lasting – looking out to 2050 and beyond – alongside our decarbonisation timescales in fact.

For key to delivering energy security in the long-term is making sure we have a diverse energy mix, not over-reliant on any one source or fuel.

And much, much less reliant on fossil fuels and imported fuels.

That’s one of the many reasons I put such a great emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency investments as central to my energy strategy.

By increasing indigenous, home-grown, energy production through renewables, new nuclear and lower carbon fossil fuels, and by using energy more wisely, we are seeking to cushion the country as far as possible from volatile global fuel prices.

And onshore UK shale gas could play an important part in that strategy of planning, long term, for more home grown diversity.

By advancing shale gas production in the UK we will achieve three things: First – we will displace a proportion of gas imports – increasing resilience and energy security. Second – there will be a benefit in terms of jobs, tax revenues and growth mitigating some of the falling revenues from the North Sea. Better those jobs and tax revenues are in the UK, rather than in the countries from which we import. And third – we control the production, so we control the carbon emissions created by production. Better those emissions are controlled within our rigorous carbon budgets system than in other countries where controls may be more lax. So let me turn to those environmental issues.

Safe for the local environment
Your Royal Society report published last year with the Royal Academy of Engineering demonstrated, that if regulated properly and with investment in safeguards, hydraulic fracturing can take place quite safely, without hurting the local environment.

It will not contaminate water supplies. It will not cause dangerous earth quakes. We have a long, strong tradition of civil engineering and mineral and energy extraction. From coal in the 18th and 19th century.

Oil and gas in the 20th. And renewables in the 21st. We are skilled, practised, and vastly experienced – with some of the tightest safety and environmental regulations in the world.

But onshore shale gas exploration and production could genuinely become a significant new industry for the UK. So the same scientific rigour, methodical engineering, and stringent safeguards that have been applied elsewhere must be applied to shale.

We must make sure that the recommendations the Royal Society made in your report are in place and the regulations we have imposed are followed to the letter.

As you proposed, we have now set up the Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil to co-ordinate the cross-government work on shale gas:

Planning regulations under the Department of Communities and Local Government;

Environmental safeguarding carried out by the Environment Agency under DEFRA;

And of course the licencing and consents procedure carried out by my Department.

We have introduced the traffic light system you proposed to reduce the risk of seismic tremors. Environmental Risk Assessment Guidance will be published this autumn. And the Research Councils have agreed in principle to fund a joint responsible innovation study to consider further work.

These may be early days for onshore shale gas exploration – but I’m determined we have tough regulations in place, from the start. The public rightly expect that. And then we will still need to continue to develop our systems as the industry evolves.

The Environment Agency for example is considering the best way to ensure groundwater monitoring for when exploration takes off. We are looking at ways to pilot methane emissions monitoring with industry.

And we are working to ensure there is a formal mechanism for operators to share information about any problems they are encountering and how they can be overcome.

My Department met with the Royal Society recently to look at progress and we will continue to seek your advice.

Meeting UK emissions targets
But there has remained a gap in our knowledge in relation to the impact of UK shale gas extraction on greenhouse gas emissions.

Today, I have published the report I commissioned in December last year from DECC’s Chief Scientist Professor David MacKay and Dr Timothy Stone into the carbon footprint of UK produced shale gas.

I want to thank them publicly for that report.

Their report concludes that with the right safeguards in place the net effect on national emission from UK shale gas production will be relatively small when compared to the use of other sources of gas.

Indeed emissions from the production and transport of UK shale gas would likely be lower than the imported Liquefied Natural Gas that it would replace.

The continued use of gas is perfectly consistent with our carbon budgets over the next couple of decades.

If shale gas production does reach significant levels we will need to make extra efforts in other areas.

Because by on-shoring production we will be on-shoring the emissions as well.

And, as this report recommends, we will still need to put in place a range of mitigation and abatement techniques.

I strongly welcome these very sensible recommendations and we will be responding positively and in detail shortly.

But the report from Professor MacKay and Dr Stone puts another piece of the puzzle in place.

It should help reassure environmentalists like myself, that we can safely pursue UK shale gas production and meet our national emissions reductions targets designed to help tackle climate change.

Global emissions
Of course, in terms of global emissions, the only way we are going to address the very real danger that rising global energy demand results in ever rising global carbon emissions is through a binding international agreement on how to tackle climate change.

This has to stand at the centre of any climate change strategy. Climate change is the greatest long-term threat that humankind currently faces. A threat that is proven, growing and already impacting on the way we live. So it is right that we consider how the exploitation of new fossil fuel reserves will impact on this process.

Would the imported LNG that UK shale gas is likely to replace just create extra emissions elsewhere? Or will it displace more damaging coal generation elsewhere? One of the unfortunate side effects of US shale gas production has been the dumping of US coal on international markets.

But I believe that if we can encourage a global move from coal to gas, we will be doing the planet a favour. China has overtaken the US as the world’s biggest polluter, mainly because of the massive amounts of coal they burn.

A Chinese switch from coal to gas – as is happening in the US – will make it easier to cut global emissions in the short and medium term, as the low-carbon revolution picks up pace.

If shale gas can contribute to weaning the world off more damaging coal; then we should not fear it; from an environmental point of view we should welcome it.

Let me be clear – here at home we must not and will not allow shale gas production to compromise our focus on boosting renewables, nuclear and other low carbon technologies.

UK shale gas production must not be at the expense of our wider environmental aims – indeed, if done properly, it will support them. I am determined to make that happen.

With the market reforms enacted by the Energy Bill currently going through Parliament, we can attract the investment we require to develop technologies across the mix we need – from wind to nuclear, shale gas to carbon capture and storage.

As I have said, the future of gas in the long-term will rely on technology like carbon capture and storage.

The UK Government is committed to CCS head, heart and wallet.

We have selected the Peterhead project and the White Rose project chosen as preferred bidders under our £1bn commercialisation competition.

And the £125m research and development programme is supporting 100 different projects testing knowledge in all areas of the CCS pipeline from technology to transportation to the supply chain.

So I am excited by the prospect of Britain leading the world on carbon capture and storage, because cracking this technology and making it cost effective will open up a host of new options in tackling climate change.

That is why we need to plan properly for our future.

And that includes thinking about how we use the potential proceeds from shale gas.

When North Sea oil and gas production was at its height, tax revenues were used for current spending and not reinvested.

In contrast countries like Norway and countries in the Middle East have used oil and gas tax revenues to create sovereign wealth funds which invest for the future.

If onshore shale gas production takes off; If our country gets another major fossil fuel tax revenue boost; I want us to be a country that invests for the future.

A low carbon future.

Using shale gas revenues.

My party at its conference next Sunday will be discussing how we can best transition to a zero carbon Britain by 2050.

One policy proposal before our party conference is that a Low Carbon Transition Fund is established from some of the tax revenues from any future shale gas production.

I think that is absolutely the right thing to do.

Shale gas production can and must be used to transition to a low carbon future.

In this way the benefits of future shale gas production can be felt not just by this generation, but by future generations to.

So let me now turn to the third of my objectives as Secretary of State – making sure the whole of our society benefits from the exploitation of energy resources.

The future of UK Shale
Here in the UK we are at the very early stages of shale gas exploration. The British Geological Survey is methodically investigating the geology. This is beginning to give us some idea of the size of the resource.

The Bowland shale study suggests a large rock volume, potentially filled with some 37 trillion cubic feet of gas.

But the geology also makes for challenging extraction. In some areas the shale is 10,000 feet thick. There is just no way of knowing how much gas can be physically extracted and how it will flow. And, crucially, there is no way of knowing how much can be extracted at a commercially viable rate.

That is why we have put in place the right incentives for exploration to take place and for a domestic industry to develop so that we can make those judgements more clearly.

But, let’s just look one possible scenario. In May, the Institute of Directors produced a report based on available evidence. They conclude that on a central estimate Britain’s shale gas production could potentially peak at around 32 billion cubic metres per year. The industry could support around 70,000 jobs directly, in the supply chain, and in the wider economy.

Significant production could have a benign effect on wholesale prices. And that production would of course provide a net benefit to the Treasury in terms of revenues.

It is plain common sense that we pursue the shale possibility if we can realise such benefits, without jeopardising our environment.

So – is onshore shale gas Britain’s new North Sea?

Well the 32 billion cubic metres a year of shale gas production estimated by the IOD would be less than a third of peak North Sea gas output.

In reality it could be much more, I hope so.

But it could also be much less.

Regardless it would still be valuable – especially if we can keep the North Sea running longer – perhaps with more offshore fracking.

Any shale gas tax revenues could offset some of the revenue reduction we are already seeing from our North Sea asset.

Shale gas could displace some gas imports.

But even with shale gas in full production, Britain is likely to remain significantly import dependent.

So there will be a very real and tangible benefit from shale gas – but let us not get carried away.

The basic fact is we just don’t know exactly what amounts of gas are under our feet and how much of that gas we can commercially and safely extract.

And this is why we can’t quantify precisely the effect that UK shale gas production will have on UK prices.

Prices
It’s far from clear that UK shale gas production could ever replicate the price effects seen in the US.

The situation is different here. We don’t have the wide open landscapes of Texas or Dakota.

Just one of the areas producing shale gas in the United States – the so-called Marcellus Play – has a productive use of roughly 95,000 square miles.

That is the same size as the whole of the United Kingdom.

The Bowland Shale, the largest potential shale gas area in the UK, is just 500 square miles – almost 200 times smaller.

Of course this is just a two dimensional example, but it gives you a sense of scale.

And it’s not just the geology, or the population density, or the environmental regulations or the planning laws that are different.

The US has a closed gas market – massive increases in supply naturally affect prices.

We are part of the European market.

We source energy from far and wide.

And we compete against others for the supply.

And gas produced in the UK is sold into this market.

When UK gas production in the North Sea was at its highest earlier this decade, UK and continental gas prices were still closely linked and fairly similar.

North Sea Gas didn’t significantly move UK prices – so we can’t expect UK shale production alone to have any effect.

But given there are plenty of demand side upward pressures on gas prices, as we’ve seen so painfully in recent years, shale gas is well worth pursuing simply to have more supplyside downward pressures on prices.

For if Britain can lead in Europe and can show a lead on how shale can be done safely, and as part of a complete shift away from coal, shale gas production might take off not just in the UK but across Europe.

This would reduce the dependency of Europe as a whole on gas imports.

And with huge Europe-wide shale gas production boosting supply, markets might really be impressed.

Then we might see downward pressures on gas prices strong enough to offset fast rising demand.

And frankly after wholesale gas price rises of 50% in the last 5 years – the key and overriding reason behind today’s high energy bills in Britain – any downward pressure that can be exerted on prices will be welcomed by consumers and industry alike.

Conclusion
So, ladies and gentlemen,

The reality is shale gas has a role to play in meeting all the objectives I have set out – keeping the lights on, tackling climate change, and helping keep energy affordable and the economy moving.

On all these fronts – especially energy security – shale represents an exciting prospect.

Even if the potential benefits are some way off.

Even if shale gas is not the new North Sea.

It is a national opportunity.

An opportunity it would be foolish to turn away from.

An opportunity for a home-grown energy resource that boosts security.

An opportunity for investment, jobs and tax revenues.

The bottom line is we are going to need gas supplies for many decades to come as we move to the zero carbon Britain I’d like to see.

As a bridge to that future, shale gas can help the UK, and other countries, transition to the low carbon energy system that we need if we are to limit climate change.

On this crowded island, our communities matter, our environment matters.

Energy production of all types has to be safe and an accepted part of the landscape.

Exploration, development and production all need to be handled correctly.

And that is what we are doing.

Shale gas will be developed responsibly.

Britain can lead the way.

We have the skills and expertise to lead in Europe – showing others how it can be done – protecting the environment not wrecking it.

And you at the Royal Society have helped to show us the way.

Here at the Royal Society, in 1988, a seminal speech was made by a seminal British Prime Minister.

Even though action to tackle carbon emissions may involve up-front costs, she argued:

“I believe it to be money well and necessarily spent because the health of the economy and the health of our environment are totally dependent upon each other.”

By embracing the concept of green growth, Margaret Thatcher showed a lead not just to her party, not just to the country, but to the world.

This Coalition Government agrees.

And our approach to shale gas will meet these twin responsibilities – to the economy and to the environment.