China risks cost of fracking to exploit shale gas  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

The SMH has an article on Chinese interest in shale gas - China risks cost of fracking to exploit shale gas.

CHINA has begun trials of the controversial drilling technique known as fracking to exploit the world's largest reserves of shale gas, as it tries to cope with the energy demands of a fast-growing economy while reducing its dependence on coal.

In the past two weeks, engineers have completed the country's first horizontal shale gas well in Sichuan and government officials have begun drafting a national strategy to identify 1000 billion cubic metres of exploitable resources by 2020.

Supporters say China has the potential to emulate the US, where extraction of shale gas has tripled the lifespan of gas reserves and offered a lower-carbon alternative to coal.
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''Shale gas is a game-changer for the US and should do the same for China,'' said Ming Sung, the Asia representative of the Clean Air Task Force in Boston and an advocate of closer energy links between the two nations.

''This should be one of the centrepieces for China's energy strategy. As with any new technology, we must balance benefits versus potential environmental impacts. The experiences of the US are valuable here.''

The extraction method is costly and controversial. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves the injection of chemically treated water at high pressure through seams of rock, forcing the gas inside to seep out to where it can be captured. Environmentalists say it wastes and contaminates huge volumes of water.

For fuel-hungry, drought-plagued China, this poses a conundrum. The energy potential is enormous. The ministry of land and resources calculates the size of shale gas reserves at 26,000 billion cubic metres - more than 10 times the known holdings of conventional natural gas. This is a tempting alternative for a country eager to improve its energy security.

The SMH also has an article on the lobbying effort the gas industry is doing to try and stall the adoption of renewables - Oil giants play loose with facts on gas.
SENIOR executives in the fossil fuel industry have launched an all-out assault on renewable energy, lobbying governments and business groups to reject wind and solar power in favour of gas, in a move that could choke the green energy industry.

Multinational companies including Shell, GDF Suez and Statoil are promoting gas as an alternative green fuel. These firms are among dozens worldwide investing in new technologies to exploit shale gas, a controversial form of the fuel that has rejuvenated the gas industry because it is in plentiful supply and newly accessible because of technical advances in gas extraction that are known as fracking.

Burning gas in power stations releases about half the carbon emissions of coal, allowing gas companies to claim it is a green source of fuel.

For the past two months company lobbyists have been besieging governments in Europe, the US and elsewhere.

Central to the lobbying effort is a report saying that the European Union could meet its 2050 carbon targets more cheaply, avoiding costs of €990 billion ($1.3 trillion), by using gas rather than investing in renewables.

However, The Guardian has established that the analysis is based on a previous report that came to the opposite conclusion: that renewables should play a much larger role. The report being pushed by the fossil fuel industry has been disowned by its original authors, who referred to it as biased in favour of gas.

The new report relies on questionable assumptions about the future price of technology to capture and store carbon. The team at the European Climate Foundation that produced the original report described the new version, commissioned by the European Gas Advocacy Forum, as ''biased to one preferential outcome in support of gas advocacy''. It warn that adopting its conclusions would expose the European economy to volatile gas prices.

Further doubt has been thrown on the industry's claims by an academic study from Cornell University which found that generating electricity from shale gas produced at least as much carbon dioxide as coal-fired power, and perhaps more, because of the difficulty in extracting the gas.

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