The Fracking Fallacy

by Emil Morhardt

The December 4, 2014 issue of the scientific journal Nature takes the position that the current abundance of natural gas in the US derived from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing may be a much shorter-term phenomenon than most analysts have thought. In both an editorial and an opinion piece (not however in a scientific paper) the journal takes issue with the US Energy Administration’s (USEA) assessment that natural gas production in the US will continue to grow for a quarter century, at least. Nature relies on the opinions of a team of researchers at the University of Texas, and cites a 2013 paper (Patzek, 2012)) by members of the team which now consists of a dozen geoscientists, petroleum engineers, and economists. That paper examines extraction data from 2,057 such wells in the oldest US shale play, the Barnett Shale in Texas, and concludes that they started to decline at an exponential rate in ten years or less, and goes on to predict the total amount of gas that will be produced by their overall sample of 8,294 wells; 10–20 trillion standard cubic feet over the next 50 years. Continue reading