Fossil Fuels and the World Beyond Fracking

Comments Off on Fossil Fuels and the World Beyond Fracking
Fossil Fuels and the World Beyond Fracking

As discussed earlier, the on-going energy revolution now centered in North America is already transforming the world in which we live. But, what happens after new technology extracts all the hydrocarbons from legacy oil fields and we've used fracking to exploit all the cost-effective shale gas and oil deposits? Obviously, there is a whole new generation of nuclear technology, as well as the long-term possibility that wind, water and solar energy will become truly competitive.

However, we don't have to count on those options materializing any time soon. There are untapped fossil fuel deposits to meet our needs for centuries that we're now just learning to exploit.

Consider methane hydrates, which are chunky packets of ice that trap huge amounts of natural gas in the form of methane. The Trends editors began investigating the potential of methane hydrates over 20 years ago, and in 2006 boldly predicted that these little-known resources would make the peak oil hypothesis irrelevant.

Types of Methane Hydrate Deposits

Now, eight years later, methane hydrates loom large, especially for Japan, which faces the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and skyrocketing bills for imported fuel.1 Other Asian countries facing an energy crunch, including South Korea, India, and China, are also hoping to tap into the apparently abundant reserves of methane hydrates (also known as “fire ice”).

Totally unknown until the 1960s, methane hydrates theoretically store several times more gas than all the world's conventional gas fields combined. The amount that scientists conservatively estimate to be obtainable comes to about 43 quadrillion cubic feet, or nearly double the 23 quadrillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas from all traditional resources around the world.

To put this in perspective, the United States consumed 26 trillion cubic feet of gas last year; that means these resources could supply current U.S. demand for over 1,600 years. Some estimates say the amount of methane hydrate gas could be twice that big.

That raises the possibility of an energy revolution that could dwarf even the shale gas bonanza that has transformed America's fortunes in a few short years. It could also potentially have big implications for countries, including the U.S., Australia, Qatar, and even Russia, that are banking on unbridled growth in the global trade of liquefied natural gas...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund