Monday, November 04, 2013

Some experts say fracking boom will end soon, but others say it will continue for decades

Researchers say the U.S. fracking boom won't last as long as Department of Energy estimates have predicted, Wendy Koch reports for USA Today. "Many wells behind the energy gush are quickly losing productivity, and some areas could hit peak levels sooner than the U.S. government expects, according to analyses presented last week at a Geological Society of America meeting in Denver." (Getty Images by Mladen Antonov: Marcellus Shale site in Waynesburg, Pa.)

J. David Hughes, an energy expert at the Post Carbon Institute, a research group focused on sustainability, said "sweet spots," areas with the highest yields, don't last long, Koch writes. He said unless more wells are drilled, a typical one in "the Bakken shale of North Dakota and Montana loses 44 percent of its production after a year and the Eagle Ford shale of Texas, 34 percent. Most of the nation's major shale regions produce both oil and gas." Hughes said oil production in the Bakken has already started to slow down and Eagle's Ford may soon follow. Charles Hall, professor at the State University of New York-Syracuse, said almost all the Bakken production comes from sweet spots.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has said the Bakken and Eagle Ford deposits will hit their oil peak in 2020, declining afterward, but William Fleckenstein, a petroleum engineering professor at the Colorado School of Mines, told Koch the boom will continue for decades. The University of Texas-San Antonio "reported in March that fewer wells will be drilled but total production of both oil and gas will rise considerably by 2022. New shale regions are also emerging, and being touted by companies looking for money to exploit them. In the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, the production of oil will more than double and that of gas will nearly double by 2025, according to an investor presentation last month by Pioneer Natural Resources, a Texas-based oil and gas company." (Read more)

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