Shale Gas Global Phenomenon

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Originally published by Turbomachinery International, the article below describes the potential of a “golden age of natural gas” made possible by new technology. KEVTA believes that this represents a significant opportunity, not only for the gas and turbomachinery industries, but also as a legitimate approach to spur economic growth worldwide through investments in infrastructure and ultimately a reduction in energy costs. Although the burning of natural gas does produce air emissions, much of these can be offset by selective catalytic reduction and similar processes. At this time, natural gas is considered a “clean energy” source by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Today, shale gas is considered a largely US phenomenon. But, if shale gas is defined as economically recoverable gas obtained through a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, then we may soon be on the verge of a global gas glut. More nations are ramping up their estimates of gas reserves that could potentially be recovered using new technologies.

Today gas prices vary across the board. In China, natural gas prices are eight to nine times more than in the US. But that could soon change if the now mature technology of hydraulic fracturing were to be used worldwide.

Leading the shale gas charge is, of course, China. EIA estimates that China has at least one third more shale gas reserves than the US. These are not proven reserves, but dubbed “technically recoverable,” as estimates of production costs have not been clearly marked out. Further explorations are required to arrive at an accurate estimate.

This year the Chinese government released a five-year shale gas plan. The production target for 2015 is 6.5 billion cubic meters and for 2020 — 60 – 100 billion cubic meters. If China were to achieve the targets, it would still only be a modest achievement as the nation would be 10 years behind the US in terms of volumes. US shale gas production reached these numbers in 2010. But, given the size of its reserves, China may eventually catch up with the US and find its comfort level in the production of cheap, efficient and environmentally friendly source of fuel for power generation.

Other countries jumping on to the shale bandwagon include Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, Poland and Brazil. Of these, Argentina, by current estimates, has nearly the same amount of reserves as the US. The Poles see shale gas as helping them break Russian stranglehold over their fuel supplies.

All this is good news for gas turbine suppliers. For instance, coal-based power accounts for 70% of all power generated in China. And the five-years shale gas plan has clearly laid out its intent to change that equation to bring down carbon emissions.

But questions remain. Less-than-$3 gas is a reality in the US today. But that may not be the case in other nations. Shale geology is generally considered more complex in other nations, such as China, making shale gas production more expensive than the US.

The larger, bigger challenge may well be logistical, though. Other nations do not boast of the same extensive pipeline network as the US, and transporting the gas may require extraordinary investments unlike in the US.

Banks Sue BP Over Safety

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Investment groups that bought BP shares on the London Stock Exchange filed a lawsuit in a Texas court under a state fraud law. They say BP made misleading claims about its commitment to safety.

“BP paid only lip service to … (safety) reforms, lacked any tools for dealing with oil disasters such as deep-water spills and continued to operate by sacrificing safety for savings,” the suit was quoted by British newspaper The Daily Telegraph as stating. “Indeed, BP’s reform failures led directly to the April 2010 disaster.”

The Deepwater Horizon rig caught fire and sank in 2010, killing 11 workers and leading to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The investors bought shares in BP before the spill or immediately after. They said BP offered misleading statements about the size of the spill and its ability to respond to the incident.

No comment was issued by BP.

PEMEX Fire, 4 Injured

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Four workers were injured in a fire at the refinery in the northeastern Mexican city of Ciudad Madero, state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said in a statement released Monday.

The fire started while workers were installing a line Sunday at the Madero refinery, which is in Tamaulipas state.

“Regrettably, four workers were injured and they are being treated at the Pemex Regional Hospital in Ciudad Madero,” the oil company said.

One of the workers, identified as Faustino Reyna Lara, 46, is listed in serious condition, Pemex said.

The other workers hurt in the accident are Pedro de Leon Martinez, 42, Angel Perez Hernandez, 38, and Sergio Alberto Reyna Lara, 41, the oil company said.

The fire started around 3:30 p.m. Sunday and was “completely extinguished” an hour later, Pemex said.

The blaze did not cause any damage to “the refinery’s processing plants, which are operating normally,” Pemex said.

An explosion occurred on Aug. 14 at the same refinery, but no one was injured.
Pemex, the world’s fourth-largest oil company, produces 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of petroleum.

The state-owned corporation is the biggest source of revenue for the Mexican Treasury.
Pemex, Latin America’s largest corporation, has a monopoly over the Mexican petroleum industry.