Sunday, January 06, 2013

Americans' Forever Blowing Bubbles, This Time It's Gassy

Is America caught in a shale fracking bubble?

An article from claims it is and that it's set up the same way as the last one only with bundled gas leases replacing subprime mortgage-based derivatives and peddled to hapless investors by the usual suspects for wildly inflated values.

Although hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) is in the media’s hot seat, the prospect of a drilling bubble coupled with the underreported problem of methane leakage may be the most destructive qualities of natural gas in the United States.

From commissioning false field reports to flooding television with commercials, natural gas companies are convincing Americans that gas will save the U.S. market; it will not.

As time passes, data on natural gas production, which goes back only a few years, indicate that shale gas is an unreliable energy source. Reserves are declining up to 70 percent per year. Where corporate reports show that decline leveling off through the use of theoretical models, figures point to an unrelenting decline that predicts the reserves will dry up in a few years.

Financial backers such as Goldman Sachs and AIG are hurriedly funding the development of the natural gas sector to attract other investors before reality sets in. If they fail, the billions of dollars spent from 2006 to 2008 will have been wasted.

These firms are financing energy companies to buy up cheap land, quickly drill wells, label the fields as profitable, and then bundle up those leases and sell them for up to $30,000 per acre to clueless investors. The average acre, according to the founder of Energy Policy Forum and former investment banker Deborah Rogers, is sold to developers for no more than $1,200, and sometimes as low as $100.

These industries are doing the same thing they did leading up to the 2008 crash, only swapping out subprime mortgages for unproved shale gas reserves.

Just as in 2008, companies control the ratings agencies. They “guide” them, arguing that these deals are too complex for the agency to rate by itself. 

“Public policymakers need to be very aware of the promotional aspect of shale gas,” petroleum geologist Art Berman says. “This is a very efficient public relations and business machine. They have done a really good job of convincing public policymakers that shale is revolutionary.”

The industry’s reach, many say, infects the Department of Energy and its Energy Information Agency. 

The article links to the eye-opening, 2011 Cornell report into gas fracking that concluded so much methane, the main component of natural gas, is inadvertently leaked from fracked gas wells as to make fracked gas energy up to 20% more carbon intensive than burning coal.


Troy Thomas said...

Recession-Plagued Nation Demands New Bubble To Invest In:,2486/

I think of that, now, whenever fracking is mentioned.

The Mound of Sound said...

The Dot.Com bubble proved that the American economy had come completely unhinged. The housing/sub-prime mortgage bubble erased any remaining doubt. That they're now in a fracked-gas bubble seems almost pre-ordained. And somehow we're lashed to a giant economy with the staggers and jags.