Leitrim has $55bn gas reserves, Tamboran claims

The Irish Times writes on Wednesday, February 1, 2012: Leitrim has $55bn gas reserves, firm claims ("equivalent of 12 years worth of Irish daily natural gas consumption")

(Updated: 1 February, 13:15 - The Belfast Telegraph even claims: Fermanagh site 'to produce gas for 50 years'. They seemingly forget that Fermanagh is only sharing a part of the Lough Allen Basin as we can see in the map below; most of this formation belongs to the Republic of Ireland; so we have to take into account the demand of all-Ireland and not only Northern Ireland)

Tamboran's press release is just following up a recently published projection by BP that North America will become "almost totally self-sufficient in energy" by 2030 mainly due to fracking *. We're reading that therefore natural gas would be available for the next 130 years. Well, BP also thought their ocean oil rigs were safe and controllable. I don't buy into such projections of the petroleum industry. Let's take a look at the "New Cold War" * for oil resources under the Arctic. Russia already placed its flag on the ground claiming the pole, cynically enough, looking forward to global warming and melting permafrost. US geologists estimate under the Arctic about 25% of world's recoverable oil reserves, about 90 billion barrel, but even that only equals to just three years of worldwide demand. Paying attention to this particular angle, hydraulic shale gas fracturing seems to be nothing but an exaggerated bubble which is already starting to burst, but for what costs?

Have they ever checked the numbers? At current natural gas prices the value of 2.2 trillion cubic feet is equivalent to $5.5 billion, a tenth of their claim!

But why do we reasonably doubt the "Potential for ultimate production of up to 2.2 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of shale gas"? That would be 62.3 billion cubic metres (62.3 cubic kilometres), a cube, 100m deep, 10km wide and 62.3km long, filled just with pure refined gas. Let's take an example from the US (Texas):

Barnett Shale Map

The Barnett Shale (13,000 km2) is a geological formation located in the Bend Arch-Fort Worth Basin. It is a multiple as large as the Lough Allen Basin and more than 8 times the size (!) of the whole County Leitrim (1,588 km2),. The Barnett shale field is proven to have 2.5 trillion cubic feet (71 km3) of natural gas. That's not much more than Tamboran's prognosis.

And this is the area where Tamboran wants to recover 62.3 cubic kilometres of pure refined gas:

Let's get the proportions at the same map scale:

Meanwhile, "proven reserves" does not mean "viably recoverable".

Thus the estimate of "2.2 trillion cubic feet" is more than dodgy, and therefore we don't even need to start discussing about any promised 3,000 jobs.

No wonder that "Investors are increasingly taking notice of the unpredictable nature of this industry and questioning its risky behaviour. Is there really as much gas down there as the industry claims? If so, how much is economically recoverable?" Read Shale Gas Bubble: Insiders Suggest Fracking Boom Is a Bust! It will immediately relieve that fracking hype. "Remember that oil and gas companies have purchased or leased an enormous amount of land without any assurance that it will produce anything. Now they’re drilling multi-million dollar wells to explore, and often blanking or failing to meet expectations when they find recoverable gas." As a consequence, Australian's BHP Billiton Mining Company is already putting shale "on the back burner". Estimates for recoverable shale gas just keep falling. "Shale gas drilling in Europe is now revealing what was earlier revealed in the United States. The industry's so-called 'manufacturing model' - the idea that one could sink a well virtually anywhere in a shale gas deposit and get economically viable flows - is being discredited all over again" (End of the Boom: The True State of the Shale Gas Industry, Oilprice.com).

More about the vast exaggerations of the gas industry => Fracking - A Boom and Bust

Apart from that, there is no infra-structure at the Lough Allen Basin.

How many wells would they have to drill for accessing the estimated 2.2 trillion cubic feet? 6,000 of them like in Texas? What about pipelines? How many thousands of truck loads of sand, water and chemicals would be needed? And WHAT chemicals would be used. The petroleum industry still doesn't release all compounds in use. What about risks to water and workers? What about the "produced water"? It's hazardous waste! Of course no word of that in the Irish Times article or in the Belfast Telegraph.

Too many open questions, and statements which don't add up... That might be good for a headline. But is that also good for future investments in the country? Is it good enough to risk health and environment, the base for current and future generations?

I can only repeat the EU Parliament study, Impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction on the environment and on human heath, which comes to the disillusioning conclusion: "Even an aggressive development of gas shales in Europe could only contribute to the European gas supplies at one-digit percentage share at best. It will not reverse the continuing trend of declining domestic production and rising import dependency. Its influence on the European greenhouse gas emissions will remain small if not negligible, or could even be negative if other more promising projects are skipped due to wrong incentives and signals."

Also keeping in mind that shale gas has a carbon footprint worse than coal => The Cornell Team Redux: Shale Gas a Disaster for Climate

This has been confirmed by scientists from NOAA and the University of Colorado => Air sampling reveals high emissions from gas field (Nature News)

Compare to other claims of the industry, about 4% of the gas is lost to the atmosphere.

CH4 emissions from gas fracking

 Now, if we take a look at the website of Tamboran, a company with no reputation and no experience at all, we see 4 Directors and 2 Technical Advisors. That's it. How trustworthy are their expertises therefore? Tamboran is obviously looking like a "shadow company".

I don't buy into that dubious prognosis of an even more dubious company, backing a petroleum industry which doesn't even publish a list of all chemicals involved in the fracking process. The US EIA reduces estimates of reserves by 40-60%.

We've had enough bubbles and false promises. We cannot afford to risk our heritage, our people's health, life and future, just for another hype, vage promises, and - again - shady profit for a few.

Also => Land Use: Solar Provides Electricity Longer Than Shale Gas: "The European Union (EU) has released a report on hydrofracking and just such a comparison is included. It is an interesting contrast noted on page 20 of the report. They consider a typical pad site in PA which is about 3 acres in size to using the same amount of land for a solar power plant (i.e. 3 acres). According to their calculations, solar would generate electricity for at least twice as long as a shale gas well."

Please take your time and watch this lecture => Deborah Rogers - Hydrofracking (Financial analyst Deborah Rogers has served on the Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas since 2008. She was appointed in 2011 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to a task force reviewing placement of air monitors in the Barnett Shale region in light of air quality concerns brought about by the natural gas operations in North Texas. She joined a regional steering committee for the Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) in 2011 with responsibility for economic questions.)

1 February 2012 (updated: 3 February 2012, 8 February 2012, 10 February 2012)

Charlie Williams

[Update 4 April 2012] Similar situation in the UK: What does the announcement by IGas actually mean?

The overall picture that presents itself with these sort of announcements is of a mass of spin aimed at keeping investment cash flowing. The actual possible gas reserves behind the inflated numbers are too low and could not be produced fast enough to have any measurable effect on the energy picture in the UK. However due to the hugely intensive nature of unconventional gas production even limited attempts at production would have extremely negative consequences for the communities and the environment.

Keep Ireland Fracking Free,
5 Feb 2012 11:19
Keep Ireland Fracking Free,
5 Feb 2012 11:24
Keep Ireland Fracking Free,
5 Feb 2012 11:23