Friday, October 14, 2011

Spin on the Marcellus Shale and an Energy Revolution

I found this article on the Marcellus Shale by the Associated Press very interesting: AP Marcellus Shale Spin. Issues are very rarely black and white. For the scientists and policy wonks caught in the middle of this, it must be tough. It is hard to not proclaim a pox on both sides. Even when one comes to a conclusion on one side or another it can be disconcerting to be in anyway associated with arguments that rely on made up information. Nough said!

But for those that may not be familiar with the Marcellus Shale or Utica Shale or Bakken Formation (Bakken Formation posts HERE and HERE) as well as a number of other recent gas and oil boom areas, there is an energy revolution of sorts taking place in the United States. An if you live above one of these geologic formations you are likely experiencing more than just the energy revolution - Who would have thought western North Dakota would have a massive housing shortage? I know from my time in North Dakota this summer the place is being over run by oil field workers.

There certainly has been significant changes in energy production in Washington State and elsewhere in regards to wind energy in particular. But for those that think that peak oil is upon us and that oil production or natural gas production will be in steep decline anytime soon, you might be disappointed. That said, how we utilize the new energy fields should be given some thought.

How all this will relate to Washington State is hard to say. Washington State still amazingly has never had a commercial operating oil well that I know of and extremely limited natural gas production. The near term impact may be the shifting of oil sources impacting the refineries in northwest Washington that rely on tankers of oil from Alaska or crude via pipeline from Canada. With natural gas prices dropping due to the new production elsewhere, I suspect it may be awhile before coal bed methane hydrofracturing starts in Washington State. IN the meantime, perhaps we could learn a thing or two from Pennsylvania and New York.  

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