The Weekend Wonk: David Hughes on the Shale Boom
November 3, 2013
I spoke saturday at the Conference on Michigan’s Future in beautiful northwest Michigan.
One of the most compelling presentations of the day came from David Hughes, a 32 year veteran of the Canadian Geological Survey, who has doggedly pursued the myth of the “100 year supply of cheap natural gas” promised by the natural gas fracking industry.
The U.S. is a mature exploration and development province for oil and gas. New technologies of large scale, multistage, hydraulic fracturing of horizontal wells have allowed previously inaccessible shale gas and tight oil to reverse the long-standing decline of U.S. oil and gas production. This production growth is important and has provided some breathing room. Nevertheless, the projections by pundits and some government agencies that these technologies can provide endless growth heralding a new era of “energy independence,” in which the U.S. will become a substantial net exporter of energy, are entirely unwarranted based on the fundamentals. At the end of the day, fossil fuels are finite and these exuberant forecasts will prove to be extremely difficult or impossible to achieve.