An American Fracking Boom Spawns European Frack-Phobia

If you stay reasonably well informed, you already know that the applied technology of fracking is one of the few bright spots in the current US economy. Here are some facts about the shale boom:

1) 12.1 million barrels per day
Over the past four years U.S. energy output — including oil, natural gas, and biofuel — has increased by 26% to 12.1 million boepd. Almost all of this can be credited to new shale plays like the Bakken, the Eagle Ford, and the Marcellus.

According to the IEA, the U.S. is expected to surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia in oil production by 2017…

2) 1,200 rigs
You can thank the success of horizontal drilling for much of America’s energy boom. In 2000, there were fewer than 50 horizontal drilling rigs in the U.S. Today, however, there are more than 1,200 in service across the country….

3) 2.1 million jobs
According to a study conducted by IHS, America’s shale boom has created 2.1 million direct and indirect jobs. The research firm also estimates that unconventional drilling boosted the average annual U.S. household income by $1,200 last year.

4) $100 billion in investment
The challenge of surging production is building enough infrastructure to actually move and store all of this stuff. ITG and Tortois Capital Advisors estimate that midstream master limited partnerships have set aside $100 billion for capital expenditures over the next three years…

5) 100 years of supply
Thanks to new drilling techniques, the latest estimate for America’s natural gas reserves is 2,200 trillion cubic feet. And while this number is highly debated, those reserves could supply the country for the next 100 years based on current consumption rates.

6) $175 billion per year
Due to a combination of surging production and falling demand, the U.S. now only imports 40% of its daily energy consumption from foreign countries — a 20-year low. For the first time in 50 years, America also became a net exporter of finished petroleum products in 2011. This shaved $175 billion off of the country’s trade deficit last year.

7) 6.3 billion cubic feet per day
Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, and oil could be America’s next export bonanza. In September, the Department of Energy granted conditional approval of Dominion Resources’ Cove Point natural gas export facility.
_Motley Fool

This boom is taking place on private land, by private concerns, in the face of a hostile US EPA.

Meanwhile in Europe, frack-phobia is in full bloom. The EU is set to enact draconian and counter-productive regulations to restrict shale oil & gas production — the end result of which will be a continuing rise in coal use, to compensate for the unreliability and intermittency of energy production caused by Europe’s growing dependency on big wind and big solar.

Europeans are generally phobic about reliable forms of energy in general, including nuclear, natural gas, coal, and anything else that might actually produce large-scale baseload power. How ironic that Europe is becoming ever more dependent upon coal as a result of its choice to increasingly risk everything on big wind and big solar.

Nuclear is generally acknowledged by competent analysts to be the safest form of power production over the past half century. Wind and solar are typically considered safe as well, but if you consider the growing risks of cascading blackouts and power shutdowns that an increasing dependency on big wind and big solar are creating, “safe” and “unsafe” take on added dimensions of meaning.

Humans generally have a poor conception of everyday risk. Test yourself. Below you are asked to choose the greater risk of two choices:

What’s more dangerous? Your spouse or a serial killer?
What’s more dangerous: Your parent or your child?
What’s more dangerous: Dog bites or snake bites?
What’s more dangerous: Being a man or a being woman?
What’s more dangerous: Showers or baths?
What’s more dangerous: Frostbite or sunburn?
What’s more dangerous: Cocaine or heroin?
What’s more dangerous: Driving at daytime or nighttime?
What’s more dangerous: Motorcycles or horses?
What’s more dangerous: Buses or trains?
What’s more dangerous: Bears or lightning?
What’s more dangerous: The pen or the sword? _Find the answers at

Most people are likely to choose the wrong answer, off the top of their heads. How about you?

One of the greatest risks of all — right up there with war, drought, pandemics, and famine — is the risk of a widespread electrical power blackout of intermediate to long duration (weeks to months). Particularly in multicultural cities, the risk of a violent breakdown of the social order is significant in the face of a loss of vital power supplies. Most people fail to consider such risks.

It is too much to ask for the masses of humans to grow up, face the reality of their precarious existences, and take some responsibility. It is the job of governments, media, academia, and vested interest activist organisations to keep the people distracted by faux issues.

But for those willing to give the issue some thought, remember: It is never to late to have a dangerous childhood.

More: Fascinating look at the risks to humans from background radiation levels. (via Brian Wang)


Remember back to the cold war when various Governments were exploding large atomic bombs in the atmosphere? Some of these where thousands of times bigger than the Hiroshima bomb of World War II. And by how much did they raise background radiation levels? Not even once, let alone the 200,000 times you’d need to double our DSBs. They raised global radiation levels by less than 1/4 of one percent. Do the math. We could explode half a million Hiroshima sized nuclear bombs without even doubling average background radiation levels. Finland, as it happens, gets about triple the global annual natural level of background radiation and has a lower cancer rate than the UK, Australia or the US.

There are some slam-dunk winning reasons to avoid nuclear war but concerns about radiation aren’t among them.

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3 Responses to An American Fracking Boom Spawns European Frack-Phobia

  1. Steve Johnson says:

    That list of questions bothers me.

    My wife (I’m unmarried) would be significantly less dangerous to me than a serial killer. I’m just not likely to ever meet a serial killer.

    Same for dog bites vs snake bites and frostbite vs sunburn.

  2. alfin2101 says:

    It’s all about statistics when you talk to an actuary about risk. What is more likely to happen statistically?

    And I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your wife . . .

    Just kidding!

  3. swampie says:

    Sometimes we look at those questions through the blinders of our own experiences. For example, I rated horses as more dangerous than a motorcycle. Why? Because I have lots of experience with horses and the injuries that they can cause. I look at motorcycles as a piece of equipment that, until you climb aboard and start it up, is perfectly innocuous. Walk into the garage as lightning strikes somewhere on the property and there’s a huge BOOM, the motorcycle sits there. Walk into the stable as lightning strikes somewhere on the property and there’s a huge earthshaking BOOM, the horse will run right over the top of me to get away from scary noise.

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