[FoRK] US Reaches Peak Oil!

Joseph S. Barrera III joe at barrera.org
Sun Nov 3 17:35:16 PST 2013

"Could fracking boom peter out sooner than DOE expects?"


Surging oil and gas production is nudging the nation closer to energy 
independence. But new research suggests the boom could peter out long 
before the United States reaches this decades-old goal.

Many wells behind the energy gush are quickly losing productivity, and 
some areas could hit peak levels sooner than the U.S. government 
expects, according to analyses presented last week at a Geological 
Society of America meeting in Denver.

"It's a temporary bonanza," says J. David Hughes, an energy expert at 
the Post Carbon Institute, a research group focused on sustainability. 
He studied two of the nation's largest shale rock formations, now the 
source of huge amounts of oil and gas, and said they could start 
declining as early as 2016 or 2017.

The reason: "sweet spots" — small areas with the highest yields. Hughes 
says these spots simply don't last long. Unless more wells are drilled, 
the Bakken shale of North Dakota and Montana loses 44% of its production 
after a year and the Eagle Ford shale of Texas, 34%. Most of the 
nation's major shale regions produce both oil and gas.

"You have to keep drilling more and more just to maintain production," 
says Hughes, adding this can become too costly to be profitable. He 
notes oil production in the Bakken, which skyrocketed between 2008 and 
2012, has already started to slow down and Eagle's Ford may soon follow. 
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects both shale 
plays will hit their oil peak in 2020, declining afterward.

Taking a similarly pessimistic view is Charles Hall, professor at the 
State University of New York, Syracuse and author of Energy and the 
Wealth of Nations. His analysis of Bakken production, now accounting for 
nearly a third of all U.S. oil from shale, found almost all its oil 
comes from just a few "sweet spots." He also cited EIA data that show 
gas production has been falling since mid-2012 in the Barnett of Texas 
and the Haynesville of Texas and Louisiana.

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