Monday, March 30, 2009

P57. Pick Points

Over at The Oil Drum, Jon Friese has a guest post with an interesting plot of the relative drilling activity in the four major gas shale fields. It shows that while drilling in the Fayetteville and Woodford shale has remained relatively stable, there has been considerably more activity in the Haynesville shale, and a rapid drop-off in rig count in the Barnett. Overall the number of rigs drilling in gas shale has held remarkably constant over recent months at around 230 rigs, though this is down from the peak of 311 rigs last December. This is happening just as a new pipeline extension is connecting into the Barnett field. The Sherman extension to the Enterprise Texas Intrastate connector will carry up to 1 bcf out to markets as far apart as the North East and Florida. The Barnett had increased production in 2008 to nearly 1.4 tcf, and had 10,500 wells with 222 companies operating. But over the last few months the rig count had fallen 57% from 214 rigs to 91. With an average of 25 people per rig this is a loss of some 3,000 jobs. Meanwhile Exxon Mobil has leases on 19,400 acres in the Marcellus shale.

Oh, and in the great game of Azerbaijani natural gas, the Russians are now trying to get the gas that might go West to Turkey, to go instead North to Russia (who could then sell it into Europe). It is part of the ongoing struggle over supplies for the Nabucco pipeline. Gazprom is also trying to raise $500 million on the Eurobond market. Further East, the pipeline from Turkmenistan to China should have the Turkmen leg finished this year. Gas should reach peak flow (30 bcm per year) in 2011. And the Turkmen are still talking about possibly piping natural gas down to India and Pakistan. It is needed since even exports of goods from Pakistan are now being reduced due to shortages of natural gas. India, meanwhile is bringing new gas on stream and using natural gas increases from current fields to improve fertilizer production.

While Mt Redoubt is relatively quiet today, there are signs of new eruptions from a volcano in the Congo that last erupted in 2002, nearly destroying the nearby town of Goma.

Financing for wind power in the UK appears to be rapidly fading
Despite the fact that the UK has richer ambient energy resources than any other country in Europe, the government managed to beat its target for renewable power down to 15% of total energy supply, rather than the 20% adopted across the EU. Even so, this means that by 2020 35% of our electricity must be produced by wind, hydro, wave, tidal, solar or biomass generators. The technology that could be most widely deployed is wind power, but investment is melting away faster than an Andean glacier.

Shell has pulled out completely. Centrica, E.ON and BT are reviewing their plans. Sun Microsystems has suspended its projects. The Spanish company Iberdrola is cutting its investment in the UK by 40%. Scores of smaller firms are going bust.
On the other hand the British government has just offered increased financial support in order to get production closer to target.
The government is also planning to sign contracts with companies by the end of the year to develop up to 25 gigawatts of offshore wind power that will be awarded from its Round 3 development phase.

But developers are anxious about financing the investments, which, at about GBP3 million a megawatt, are roughly double that of onshore wind.

The recent banking crisis has also made project finance difficult to come by and more expensive.

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