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On Sunday, the New York Times published a story questioning natural gas industry claims about the nature and viability of shale gas formations across the country. That afternoon, Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon, who heads up one of the nation's largest shale gas drilling companies, blasted the NYT story, calling it misleading and all but accusing anyone who questions the value of shale gas deposits of sedition.

But publicly available documents published by the federal Energy Information Administration clearly show that the NYT was right, in devastating detail.

On Sunday, the New York Times published a well-researched story, supported by a trove of documents such as emails between natural gas industry executives, market analyst reports and internal agency documents, questioning the claims made by natural gas industry executives about the productivity of their hydraulic fracturing wells and the size of the reserves locked away in the shale formations across the United States.

The story prompted an immediate response from Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon, who questioned the reporter’s motivation for writing the piece and castigated the story as the work of a handful of anti-American environmental activists hell-bent on derailing our nation’s energy future.

The fact is, though, that other, more objective observers have also questioned the claims made by the natural gas industry — including the federal Energy Information Administration.

From the EIA Annual Energy Outlook for 2011:

Estimates of technically recoverable shale gas are certain to change over time as new information is gained through drilling and production, and through development of shale gas recovery technology. Over the past decade, as more shale formations have been explored and used for commercial production, estimates of technically and economically recoverable shale gas resources have skyrocketed. However, the estimates embody many assumptions that might prove to be untrue in the long term.

Read more here.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Chesapeake is #1 at getting sued (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bcre8ve, JeffW, Gemina13

    A very quick search finds them weaseling out of paying for leases in Michigan, spilling frac fluid in Pennsylvania & cheating on royalties in Virginia. Chesapeake is providing good jobs at good pay for more lawyers than just about any company not in receivership.

    Which, given the generally awful economics of producing gas these days  ($7/kcf cost ,$4/kcf price), is kind of remarkable.

    •  OT, trivial, sorry (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gemina13, Downpuppy

      Just to avoid any confusion for your readers,
      industry usage:

      "mcf" for thousand cubic feet
      "mmcf" for million cubic feet (thousand thousands)
      "bcf" for billion cubic feet
      "tcf" for trillion cubic feet

      depending on who's doing the conversion, 5.6-6.0 bcf/mmboe
      (million barrels of oil equivalent).

      but, yeah, it's not clear that much of the shale gas is economic at current N.Am. prices. OTOH at $10/mcf there's plenty.

      Supermajors Exxon, Shell, Total apparently think some of this stuff is going to work. Chevron and Conoco seem to be focusing on non-US shale gas.

      Success will depend on drilling efficiency, completion technology, and methodology for sweet spot identification.

  •  Overstating your case (0+ / 0-)

    I think the EIA documents, at least what I see quoted, don't really support the NYT story that strongly.

    The EIA mostly says there is uncertainty in the estimates, not that they are vastly exaggerated.

    Personally, I think the NYT story is likely to be correct, but I don't think we've got a good 2nd source in the EIA yet.

  •  Fracking didn't work... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...when the government tried it using a tactical nuclear device under Project Plowshares. It still doesn't work.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 01:33:46 PM PDT

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