Shale gas at Moomba

This article appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on 19 October 2012.

Is this the "game-changer" for energy in Australia, and indeed in South Australia?

The recovery of unconventional gas as it's called, has made a quantum technological leap in recent years. In the US and Europe, it's been written about as a "game changer". According to Jim Burkhard (head of global oil research for IHS Cambridge Energy Associates) it's called the great revival of US oil production ("The Weekend Australian", July 14-15, 2012).

The extraordinary shift in energy availability in the US is demonstrated by one very important figure. 60% of oil for vehicles and industry was imported into the US in 2008, but that is now down to 45%, mostly because of the boom in shale oil.

It's all been made possible by FRACKING.

Back in SA, shale gas is now being extracted in commercial quantities by Santos at Moomba.

It's being hailed as "a landmark for Australia's natural gas industry" (James Baulderstone, Santos eastern Australia vice-president). Geoscience Australia has upgraded its estimates of shale gas reserves from about 235 trillion cubic feet (tcf) to around 400 tcf. This is a huge increase.

What does it mean for power generation in Australia? What does it mean for greenhouse gas emissions? What about royalties? And future costs to the consumer?

All very interesting stuff ... all to be explored in the near future.

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