Apr 28, 2011

China risks cost of fracking to exploit shale gas

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.

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.

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