Tag archives for natural gas

It is often called “fire ice”:  Around the world, cage-like lattices of water molecules trap untold stores of methane gas.  Petroleum engineers have been familiar with these frozen compounds—properly known as methane hydrates—for years, because they block the flow of oil in pipelines. The effects of methane hydrates were highlighted in 2010, when British Petroleum’s…

What exactly is “the cleanest liquefied natural gas in the world?” It’s a hypothetical fuel that leaders in British Columbia, Canada, have repeatedly promised to deliver in an effort to build public support for their proposed LNG industry. But while it sounds clear-cut, it’s proven a tough nut to crack. After all, the greenhouse gases…

Can good economic times roll while carbon emissions decline? Maybe so. Last week the Obama administration proposed new rules to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants under the auspices of the Clean Air Act. Once EPA officially publishes the rule in the Federal Register (most likely in a week or two), a…

In an effort to cut dependence on coal and to reduce pollution, Chinese authorities have been encouraging use of more natural gas. China relies overwhelmingly on countries in Central Asia to procure that gas. But as China deepens its energy ties with Central Asia, it may face a predicament that it has not faced yet:…

Natural gas emits significantly less carbon dioxide than either coal or gasoline when burned, but its ability to help reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions has been questioned. In the latest contribution to the debate, a study published this week by Duke University researchers concludes that switching to abundant shale gas as an energy source is…

After decades of debate and with growing anxiety about climate change, the planet is no closer to a systematic solution to our collective energy challenge. Yet still we try. At its impressive Vancouver gathering, National Geographic asked a simple question:  Is natural gas the bridge to a sustainable energy future?  (See video featuring participants including…

British Columbia finds itself at the forefront of the global debate on natural gas, and its role in the future of energy. Some 15 energy company consortiums are vying to build massive export terminals on the Pacific coastline of Canada’s westernmost province, with an eye to shipping gas to energy-hungry Asia. British Columbia, in other…

On March 25, I was honored to participate in a roundtable discussion convened by National Geographic as part of its Great Energy Challenge initiative. Along with a group of academics, government officials, and representatives of industry and nongovernmental organizations, we tackled key questions about the role of natural gas in a low-carbon future. What became…

Almost all of the climate-affecting methane leaks from the oil and gas infrastructure could be reduced at relatively little expense, often by simply tightening bolts or replacing worn seals, suggests a new study by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force released today. (See related story: “Green Fracking? 5 Technologies for Cleaner Shale Energy.”) The report…

In his call Tuesday for boosting the fuel economy of heavy-duty trucks, President Barack Obama is taking aim at one of the world’s fastest growing engines of oil demand and greenhouse gas emissions. But one of the most popular ideas for reducing oil demand in trucking—switching to natural gas—may not help on climate change. A…

Emissions of the potent heat-trapping gas, methane, the main component of natural gas, are likely 50 percent higher than U.S. government has estimated in its official greenhouse gas inventory, says a new study that is the most comprehensive effort yet to assess the problem. But the team of scientists, after reviewing more than 200 earlier…

Fracking in Water-Stressed Zones Increases Risks to Communities – and Energy Producers

Even as concerns arise about the threats hydraulic fracturing poses to water quality and human health, a new study released yesterday finds that the water demands of the “fracking” process are adding considerably to localized water depletion, especially in parts of Texas, Colorado, and California. (Vote and comment: “How Has Fracking Changed Our Future?“) Nearly…

A massive winter storm hit much of the U.S. Tuesday, dumping heavy snowfall along the East Coast and sending temperatures plunging from 15 to 30 degrees below normal from the Mid-Atlantic region to the upper Midwest. But in addition to causing school closings and disrupting highway traffic, frigid winter weather has far-reaching effects on energy…

A new study challenges our understanding of natural gas as a clean fuel, and raises new questions about the U.S. energy boom. Sure, natural gas (or methane, its main component) burns with less pollution than coal, but release it directly to the atmosphere and it is a highly potent greenhouse gas–at least 25 times worse…

Which is more important: Meeting energy demand, lowering carbon emissions, or conserving water? How about all three? The Three Big Challenges Facing the Electric Power Industry The U.S. electric power industry has huge challenges to meet in the coming decades. First and foremost it has to meet growing demand for electricity. By 2050 it is…

The British government’s long-awaited “policy framework” on the Arctic is not likely to please environmentalists who would like to see an outright moratorium on oil and natural gas drilling. But Clive Archer, emeritus professor and former head of the Manchester Metropolitan University’s European Institute, who has studied Arctic issues extensively, believes it is an important…

The International Energy Agency made headlines nearly one year ago with its bold forecast that the United States was on track to being the world’s top oil and natural gas producer by 2017. (See related, “U.S. to Overtake Saudi Arabia, Russia as World’s Top Energy Producer.”) It turns out that the United States is fracking…

Another crack in the “fracking is safe” story for the industry to address.

The United Kingdom may not be an Arctic nation, but it has a unique perch on the front line of the dramatic change reshaping the polar north. The U.K. government now is preparing to unveil an Arctic policy framework, its own version of the strategy documents  put forth by nations in the thick of decision-making…

The Obama administration on Friday unveiled the first-ever national limits for carbon emissions from new power plants in the United States–a step that seeks to reshape the debate on climate change in the inevitable political and legal battles that lie ahead. (See related, “Four Ways to Look at Global Carbon Footprints.”) “We must meet our…

Birds face numerous human-made perils on their survival, ranging from collisions with structures and poisoning by pesticides to attacks by pet felines who are allowed to roam outdoors, despite pleas by conservationists to keep them inside.  And they’re further imperiled by loss of habitat areas crucial for breeding and wintering, due to encroachment by human…

The federal government’s latest international energy projections are out, and there’s no question we’re living in a time of enormous change—and perhaps remarkably little progress. The International Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration tries to identify the big trends and projections affecting the energy world through 2040. Some of the trends include: The…

Many states in the U.S. have grappled with how, or whether, to exploit newly accessible reserves of shale gas. In Virginia, the question is complicated by the fact that its shale lies beneath about half of a one-million-acre national forest; and what happens in that forest could have implications for federal lands across the country.…

A natural gas pipeline from New Jersey to New York: sane or insane? Bottleneck to the Northeast It could be a marriage made in economic heaven. Standing on one side of the altar is the northeastern United States, hungry for more natural gas, a fuel whose prices in the region are projected to reach five-year…

Peak Oil Flip-Flop

There’s a new twist in the “peak oil” debate. Is it good news for the climate? Peak Oil Question Remains, Debate Continues Ever since M. King Hubbert advanced the theory of peak oil in 1956, experts and non-experts alike have been debating about timing and relevance. (See here, here, here and here.) Hubbert’s argument seems like a…