Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shale Gas - Is the magic wearing off?

The Alaska Dispatch carried Larry Persily's recent speech on the future of the Alaska Gas Pipeline. (LINK). According to Persily:

I'm not here to tell you it will be built this decade. But I assure you it is not dead; shale gas has not driven a silver stake through the Alaska pipeline; the market has not forgotten us. It may not be paying as much attention as we would like, but that could change.
What about shale gas? Well ExxonMobil (XOM) joined the shale game through acquisition of XTO. Exxon has ideas about exploring for shale gas around the world. XTO cost Exxon $41 Billion (with a "B") in stock. My guess is that Exxon's investment in shale gas will pay off with the greatest successes in Europe.

Chesapeake Energy on the other hand shows signs that owning big shale gas plays + debt + $4/MMBTU may be a bad business plan. Yesterday they announced a $600 million cash infusion from Asian investors (LINK).

In a separate announcement Chesapeake says
Through a series of transactions over the next 24 months, including the preferred stock placement announced today, the company is planning to raise up to $5.0 billion in order to repay up to $3.5 billion of senior indebtedness and increase its investment in liquids-rich plays by up to $1.5 billion.
So judging from their actions it looks like $4/MMBTU shale gas can break you and leave you wanting some liquid hydrocarbons. So I tend to agree with Mr. Persily - Shale gas at $4/MMBTU is not going to drive a stake in the heart of the Alaska Pipeline, that's a job for the politicians.


Uffda said...

I've been thinking about this oil spill.

They say that natural gas doesn't cause that kind of damage because it just evaporates.

You would think that we should transition slowly from fossil fuels to renewables via natural gas.

If someone could make that a national policy or encourage it from a high level, that would be pretty awesome, IMHO.

AK Engineer said...

Obviously I'm a cheerleader for the stranded natural gas of Alaska. It's the cleanest fossil fuel so let's develop this domestic energy source.

However gas is almost always associated with oil so it's not going to be an either or choice.

Renewables sound good but the energy density of fossil fuels is amazing. I always chuckle at the story of the corn-ethanol plant that had to build a 16 inch 900 psi gas line to their plant to run the distillation process.

I think the best thing we can do is make personal choices to reduce our individual energy consumption and let the market punish wasteful consumption with high prices.