Shale Gas:
An important new energy source

SHALE GAS is an exciting, relatively new development in expanding the world's supply of fossil fuel.

Shale has become an increasingly important source of natural gas in the United States over the past decade, and interest has spread to potential gas shales in Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It is possible that shale gas will supply half the natural gas production in North America by 2020.

Some analysts expect that shale gas will greatly expand worldwide energy supply.A study by the Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University concluded that increased shale gas production in the US and Canada could help prevent Russia and Persian Gulf countries from dictating higher prices for the gas it exports to Europe.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation has published (May 2011) a detailed report about the shale gas revolution and its likely implications for climate policy.

The report is by Matt Ridley and has a foreword by Professor Freeman Dyson. It finds that shale gas:

  • is not only abundant but relatively cheap and therefore promises to take market share from nuclear, coal and renewable energy and to replace oil in some transport and industrial uses, over coming decades.
  • will help to keep the price of nitrogen fertiliser low and hence keep food prices down, other things being equal.
  • is unlikely to be a major source of pollution or methane emissions, but in contrast promises to reduce pollution and accelerate the decarbonisation of the world economy.

To read the full report see:

http://thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/Shale-Gas_4_May_11.pdf [PDF, 1.6 MB]

A number of green activists are trying to prevent exploration and exploitation of this relatively new energy source. They are being supported by those who favour energy sources threatened by cheaper gas: French nuclear, Russian gas, the carbon-capture enthusiasts and those promoting renewables: wind and solar.

Some of the shales will also produce significant oil. Nick Grealy looks here at the coming impact of oil and gas from so-called “Wet Shale”:


WIKIPEDIA talks about shale gas, though you'll find more there about carbon emissions than any serious discussion of the technology.

ND / 30 May 11

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