Shale Gas Energy Summary

A surging historic energy development of a new energy source, its production, availability and use, dubbed the “Game Changer” is taking place in most of the countries around world, and particularly in the United States. This new energy source is shale natural gas, an ideal fuel for today’s advanced industrial gas turbine. This changer could be bigger than SpindleTop, the first big and wild oil discovery in East Texas, in several different ways.

The US oil and gas industry and our free enterprise system, driven by the profit motive, is making a tremendous play to help ease our ever growing energy problem and drooping economy.  Shale gas activities are exploding across the country to help put the US back to work.  As of now, each state is responsible for its own laws regarding environmental protection on shale gas drilling and well completions.  It is a turkey shoot at the present time.

Recovering natural gas by fracking

The oil and gas industry, through experience, know-how, research, development and finances, has developed technology to recover large amounts of natural gas tightly locked in solid shale rock. The industry has found a way to drill holes deep into shale deposits (5000 to 8000 feet) and then drill horizontally thereafter hydraulically fracturing (fracking) the solid shale layers, thus releasing a sizable source of natural gas. The horizontal drilling is the key to the gas extraction.  Oil at $100 a barrel and gas at $8 to $10 dollars a million BTU gives a strong incentive to go after the so called new gas.

Fracking is accomplished by injecting large amounts of water mixed with openers (sand, grit and other solids) as well as harsh chemicals into the horizontal layers of shale to open the cracks and allow the gas to flow and be recovered. The impact of this gas recovery is both good and bad.

A new supply of shale gas

Halliburton has been given credit for the first workable fracking method, which took place six years ago. Also in 2005, the US government passed the Energy Policy Act explicitly exempting fracking from the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.  Fracking was given the green light to proceed without federal policing or interference. It has been called the “Halliburton Loophole”.

Each state was given the policing and the denial or approval of shale fracking and its production. Texas passed a new law July 20, 2011 requiring companies to disclose the ingredients of the fracking fluid. This is the first step to be taken for better control. Other states are expected to follow. The EPA under order from congress has been studying fracking and previously was expected to give its initial findings in 2014 but now under pressure it has a court order deadline to report on a pollution case in February according to a July 29 article in the Wall Street Journal.  All of this activity could lead to US government control of fracking in the near future.

Authored by: Turbomachinery International