AFP reports: Algeria, the world’s fourth-largest gas exporter, has decided to develop its shale gas potential, but experts fear this could cause severe environmental problems.
Officials say the country’s shale gas reserves are 600 trillion cubic feet (17 trillion cubic meters), or around four times greater than its current known gas reserves.
Algeria may be the world’s eighth-largest natural gas producer in 2011, according to the BP Statistical Review of Energy, but domestic consumption is surging. Official forecasts say that, from 2019, local demand will eat up all the country’s production.
At present, 50 years after it gained independence, the country remains almost totally dependent on hydrocarbons, which account for 90 percent of its exports.
So as long as it fails to diversify its export base, it has no alternative than to develop shale gas, an unconventional fossil fuel, to secure its energy future, experts say.
A new hydrocarbons bill, to be introduced in parliament in the coming weeks, encourages the exploration of unconventional gas and oil resources.
However, the effect on the environment of the production of shale gas is of great concern to ecologists.
Chems Eddine Chitour, director of fossil energy development at Algiers’ Ecole Polytechnique, is concerned that the method used for obtaining the fuel trapped in formations of shale rock could be geologically dangerous and also put a strain on the largely desert country’s water supplies. [Continue reading…]
North America could be self-sufficient in gasoline and diesel fuel in 15 years if only the government would get out of the way, the president of the American Petroleum Institute said on Wednesday in a “state of American energy” address intended to raise the industry’s profile in the presidential election.
Jack N. Gerard, the president and chief executive of the trade group, said repeatedly that his organization would not take a position on whom to vote for. But he also said, “It would be a huge mistake on the part of the president of the United States to deny the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline,” which would deliver crude extracted from oil sands in Canada to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Turning it down would have “huge electoral consequences,” he said.
Truth Out reports: Fracking opponents in southern Ohio won a victory last week when the United States Forest Service (USFS) withdrew more than 3,000 acres of public lands from a federal oil and gas lease sale scheduled for December 7, 2012. The USFS announced that it needed more time to review the potential effects of fracking after receiving petitions and letters from local leaders who used the old-fashioned method of collecting signatures to catch the attention of government officials.
The fracking industry, on the other hand, has spent $747 million dollars in the past decade to lobby Congress and support politicians in states like Ohio, Michigan and New York as part of a campaign to keep fracking unregulated, according to a recent Common Cause report.
Fracking is short for horizontal hydraulic fracturing, and Ohio is the next ground zero for the rapidly expanding natural-gas drilling method, which has enraged environmentalists and provoked controversy across the country. Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of water and chemicals – some of them toxic – into deep underground wells to break up rock and release natural gas.
Common Cause reports that fracking companies spent $2.8 million in political contributions to Ohio parties and candidates since 2001. Republican Gov. John Kasich tops the list and has received $213,519 in campaign contributions from the industry.
Additional analysis of campaign records by Truthout reveals that wealthy executives of companies connected to the natural gas industry, including billionaires William “Bill” Koch and David Koch of Koch brothers fame, funneled an additional $127,268 in personal donations through a political action committee (PAC) to support Kasich’s election in 2010.
Earlier this year, Kasich signed a law passed by Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature allowing drilling companies to frack in state parks, a big signal to the industry that Ohio is open for business.
Last month, the West officially lost the new “Great Game.” The 20-year competition for natural resources and influence in Central Asia between the United States (supported by the European Union), Russia and China has, for now, come to an end, with the outcome in favor of the latter two. Western defeat was already becoming clear with the slow progress of the Nabucco pipeline and the strategic reorientation of some Central Asian republics toward Russia and China. Two recent events, however, confirmed it.
On Dec. 14, Chinese President Hu Jintao and the heads of state of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan personally opened the valve of a new gas pipeline transporting Turkmen natural gas from the state-of-the-art processing facility of Samandepe to the city of Khorgoz, in China’s western province of Xinjiang. The pipeline, developed by the Chinese state-owned energy giant, CNPC, has a capacity of 40 billion cubic meters and traverses almost 1,250 miles through four countries.
Earlier in the month, on Dec. 3, the venture had received the blessings of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who declared that Moscow was comfortable with the idea of Turkmen gas flowing eastwards to China. Putin’s words further underscored ongoing Sino-Russian energy cooperation, which has made significant advances and is shaping the new political economy of energy in Central Asia and elsewhere. In an accord signed on Oct. 13, the two countries set the basis for a long-term partnership based on joint explorations in Russia and third countries, as well as cheap loans from Chinese banks to the Russian energy sector, even if complex pricing issues remain unresolved. [continued…]