Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Energy Game Changer Follow Up

An Ocean Engineering friend of mine from Scripps saw my news about the methane hydrate well test and sent me this email.

15 or so years ago, while I was at TAMU, I had an interesting discussion with the lady who headed the DOE research lab in Pittsburgh She was wildly enthusiastic about one of her major research programs --- how to acquire all those methane icecubes on and in the deep offshore sediment. I snorted derisively, which seemed to upset her, and she launched into a sales pitch that included assumptions of huge deposit densities based upon interpretation of (at that time, at least) seismic layering as monster seams of methane hydrate. I made a succinct evaluation of her solution to the energy problem. I boldly stated "Never in my lifetime will you deliver a single cubic foot of gasified methane hydrate into a commercial pipeline". I'm still here and that still holds.
He may be right, and I admit that I still remain skeptical, but I've seen a couple things happen during my career that make me say, "Let's wait and see". One day back in the early 90s we had a visit from the top guy in the E&P organization. He had a meet and greet with the worker bees and I was nominated to attend. During his talk, he was asked about deep water. He responded that he was watching Shell and did not believe their economics. Clearly, we would not follow into deep water developments. Then a geologist asked him about sub salt plays. Evidently, there were big reserves suspected to lie under the massive salt sheath. Seismic could not, at that time, penetrate the salt to see what was under it. He replied that he did not believe in sub salt.

Fast forward about 10 years and deep water developments are the main plays in the Gulf of Mexico. Forward another 10 years and I'm working on a deep water play offshore Brazil that was drilled into.......wait for it........a sub salt reservoir.

So, what are the implications? If hydrates are real, it will mean a continuing supply of cheap, clean natural gas. This could drive a stake into the heart of Green Energy projects by keeping them non-economical for at least another generation. Don't buy any windmill stocks.

As the noted philosopher J. Garcia has said, "What a long strange ride it has been".

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